Amelia Bloomer Policies and Procedures
The Amelia Bloomer Project
Feminist Books for Youth
Policy and procedures, revised January 2015
To select from the current year’s publications, books with strong feminist messages for young people from birth to age 18, and to annotate the selected titles.
Purpose of the List
The list presents well-written and illustrated books with strong feminist messages published in the past 18 months that are recommended for young people from birth through eighteen years of age. It is a list of quality fiction and nonfiction titles that affirm positive roles for girls and women.
Fiction and nonfiction should have readable text and a format appealing to young readers. Titles must be accurate and able to stand on their own. Although the list attempts to present a variety of reading tastes and levels, no effort will be made to balance the list according to subject, area of interest, age or genre.
The list is prepared for the use of young people, from birth through eighteen years of age. Adults who work with young readers may also find it of interest.
Books may be recommended by anyone through the field nomination process, but books can only be officially nominated for the list by committee members. A book must be read in entirety by the nominator before it is nominated. Nominations must include complete bibliographic information: author/editor, illustrator if applicable, title, publication date, number of pages, publisher, price, and ISBN. Each nomination must also include a brief (one to two sentences) original annotation and a short explanation of how the book is feminist. Field nominations (recommendations made by those who are not on the committee) must be read and nominated by a project member in order to be eligible for voting. Field nominators are encouraged to review the criteria carefully before nominating. Field recommendations must be received by September 30. All nominations shall be posted by October 31.
A book must have a copyright date during the current calendar year or have been published from July to December of the previous calendar year to be considered for the list. A book originally published outside the United States will be considered according to its U.S. publication year. Books must be distributed in the United States to be considered for the list. Books which are revisions of previously published titles will be considered if the revision is to such an extent as to make the book substantially different from the previous edition. Any book which was discussed at any point during the previous ALA Midwinter meetings is not eligible for nomination the following year. The announcement of the book list will be made at the Midwinter Meeting.
The Amelia Bloomer Project consists of nine members, with one alternate, who are appointed by the co-chairs of the Amelia Bloomer Project on a staggered basis to maintain a balance of new and continuing members. Member attendance at Midwinter Meeting to participate in deliberations is mandatory, inability to attend will result in removal from the list at the co-chairs’ discretion. New members are appointed to a probationary one-year term; after completion of the first year, members may be reappointed at the discretion of the co-chairs to the Project for a two-year term. Following this 2-year term, the committee member may elect to participate for an additional year. After four years’ service, unless they are currently serving as co-chair, members are asked to take a one-year hiatus. Past members may apply to be put on the list for membership consideration after their one-year hiatus. If an applicant who has completed a non-probationary term on the committee is accepted by the co-chairs as a returning committee member, they do not serve a 1-year probation. The returning member begins immediately with a 2-year term, after which they may elect to participate for an additional year. Unless they are currently serving as a co-chair, a returning committee member may not sit on the committee for longer than 3 years without taking a 1-year hiatus. Members of the project do not need to be members of the Feminist Task Force, but are encouraged to join. In order to serve on this Project, members must actively seek books, nominate and read nominated books, and attend meetings at ALA Midwinter conferences where they actively participate in deliberations of the nominated titles and reach consensus on the books to be included in that year’s Amelia Bloomer list.
The charge of the Amelia Bloomer Project is facilitated by two co-chairs that share the responsibilities of: moderating group deliberations at the Midwinter Meeting, interviewing and selecting new committee members, responding to inquiries about the project made to the project email or through other avenues, attending to business matters, communicating with publishers and members regarding nominated books and committee functions, and coordinating an event at the ALA Annual Conference., possibly in conjunction with another book selection committee. The Amelia Bloomer Project co-chairs seek to build the capacity of committee members to contribute to the project charge and to increase awareness of the committee’s work. The Amelia Bloomer Project co-chairs report to the chair or chairs of the Feminist Task Force on the activities and status of the Amelia Bloomer Project. The co-chairs share the privilege and responsibility of reading, nominating, discussing and voting for books with other project members.
Each co-chair serves the Amelia Bloomer committee for two years. Their terms are offset, creating a senior (in their second year) co-chair and a junior (first year) co-chair. By the end of ALA Midwinter Meeting, co-chairs will choose an incoming co-chair from amongst those members eligible and interested in becoming co-chair. The incoming co-chair must have at least two years of experience on the Amelia Bloomer Project and not be in more than year 3 of their current committee service term. Members serving their first regular term are eligible at the Midwinter meeting at the close of their 2nd and 3rd years; returning members, serving an additional term after a year of hiatus, are eligible at the Midwinter meeting at the close of their 1st and 2nd years. If multiple members are eligible and interested, current co-chairs may request that interested members submit answers to questions or engage in interviews at some point during the preceding year to help them reach a final decision regarding the incoming co-chair. The incoming co-chair will assist the current co-chairs in their duties for the coming year and will begin their 2-year term at the end of the following Midwinter. The outgoing, senior co-chair will end their term following the publication and distribution of that year’s list, including contacting publisher and author honorees. As the immediate past co-chair, they will then continue to serve as a resource to the current co-chairs but will not be required to attend the ALA Midwinter Meeting deliberations. Following a one-year hiatus, former co-chairs may apply to be put on the list for membership consideration.
When selecting committee members, the co-chairs may elect to choose an alternate. An alternate fills the place of a committee member who is not able to attend Midwinter meeting due to an emergency, participating in discussion and helping the group reach consensus. If an alternate fills in for a current member due to a serious but temporary emergency during the Midwinter Meeting, the regular committee member retains their membership for the remainder of their regular term, and the alternate competes with other new applicants for openings on the committee for the coming year. In the unlikely event of a permanent mid-year vacancy, ex. committee member withdraws from the committee due to unforeseen circumstances, the alternate fills the open slot and remains on the committee, and their year as an alternate becomes their 1-year probationary term as a regular committee member.
Alternates are not required to seek out nominations, and any nominations made by them are considered as other field nominations and must be read by at least one committee member to be considered for official nomination. Alternates are asked to read and take notes on all nominations in preparation to discuss these titles and help reach consensus on their inclusion on the Bloomer list if there is an emergency vacancy during deliberations. Alternates do not vote on the straw poll or provide discussion or help the group come to consensus on the list at Midwinter unless an emergency vacancy occurs. Alternates agree to attend Midwinter prepared to step in and participate should any committee member miss Midwinter in whole or in part because of an emergency. While alternates do not need to attend every meeting if all members are present at the first meeting during Midwinter, they are asked to remain on-call in case there is a mid-Midwinter emergency vacancy. If an alternate fills an emergency vacancy during Midwinter, they come to all meetings and deliberations and participate in them fully while the committee is short a regular member. If the alternate fills in at any point during the Midwinter deliberations, they will be given credit on the Bloomer list as a member of the committee for that year, although they would not be a regular continuing committee member unless they filled in following a permanent emergency vacancy. If the alternate does not fill in at any point during the Midwinter deliberations, they will be listed on the Bloomer list as (alternate) of the committee for that year.
Project members will conduct an online straw poll in early December prior to the Midwinter Meeting, date to be announced by the co-chairs. Project members vote Yes (a book meets all criteria and should be included on the Amelia Bloomer list), No (the book fails to meet one or more criteria and should not be included on the list), or Maybe. If they have not read a title, the committee member fills in the vote as Not Read. The final discussion and selection will be conducted at the Midwinter Meeting. Members must have read books in order to discuss and vote on them. To be considered for the list, a book must have a quorum of readers, a majority of committee members having read and prepared to discuss the book. Members must be present at the meetings to lend their voice to each consideration on the list. When offering support or objection to a title, members must be specific about why a title does or does not meet criteria for feminist content, quality, and age appeal. The final list is not limited to a certain number of fiction or nonfiction titles, nor is it limited to a certain number of titles for different age groups.
When the recommended list of feminist books for young readers has been determined, the bibliographic information for each title will be rigorously checked for accuracy and the annotation collaboratively composed and edited for brevity and clarity by committee members. An introduction to the list will be collaboratively written that reflects the nature of that year’s list.
Availability of Lists for General Distribution
The list of nominated titles will be available online and distributed to ALA-OLOS, FTF, and Booklist at the close of Midwinter Meeting. Other print and non-print media will be used to publicize the list, such as magazines directed at children and teens, women, families, and library professionals.
Guidelines for Book Selection/Nomination
All books nominated will be read in total by the nominee before the nomination is submitted.
Nominations will provide 1-2 sentences of summary and 1-2 sentences of explanation about how the submitted book follows the feminist criteria as established by the committee. In addition, nominations will provide the following bibliographic information: author (or editor), title, illustrator, publisher, copyright date (with month if possible), ISBN number, number of pages, and potential age level.
The deadline for nominations is midnight (local time) on October 31 of the year for which books are being nominated.
Nominated books will be copyrighted during the year or the previous six months of the prior year of the list. If there is more than one copyright date, the one in the United States will be the deciding factor. Revised editions of a book must show substantive changes. Nominations should be based on finished books, not galleys. Electronic versions of titles are acceptable.
Midwinter Meeting (usually January): Committee members meet to discuss books nominated and reach consensus on the final list, any business that should be addressed by the whole committee is conducted at these meetings, as well. After an initial vote, each title is discussed. Decision is made by consensus, meaning that each member is willing to “live” with the decision. If consensus cannot be reached, one member of the group can agree to willingly stand aside to allow the collective process to move forward. In truly adverse circumstances, the group can agree (by consensus) to a super-majority voting rule for a specific title. The group tries to avoid this impasse. Committee members must be present at the meeting to participate in the discussion. During the last meeting at Midwinter, the committee will jointly prepare final annotations, verify bibliographic information, and write the introduction for the list. Following the composition of the list, the committee will publicize the list and contact the authors/ publishers who have contributed their works to it. The committee may elect to arrive at a Top 10 list earlier than the final meeting to facilitate promotion of that list.
Shortly after the Midwinter Meeting, Co-chairs will interview and select new members for the list seeking to balance diversity of perspective and diversity of young people served: geographic distribution, type of library (public, school- both independent and public, other with youth contact), community (urban, rural, specific populations, etc.), and age group experience/ current contact (young readers, middle readers, YA), but the most important criteria for new members will be their demonstrated commitment to feminism and commitment to young people, providing quality books for youth, 0-18. Potential members should be apprised of the commitment entailed in the responsibilities of this committee’s work.
The month(s) following Midwinter: The chair will submit a roster of current committee members to the committee and the publishers, including the criteria for the books. Committee members will begin reading and analyzing books, submitting nominations as suitable. All nominations will provide all bibliographic and annotative information (see above) and will be posted publicly online, additionally nominators post their justification of the book’s feminist criteria in a private forum to all committee members. A comprehensive list of all nominated titles will be maintained by committee members in a common online format. Committee members may also provide the co-chair with information about books that might be deemed appropriate according to the criteria for recommendation so that co-chairs can request review copies. [It is suggested that committee members concentrate on books that have not been nominated, saving the nominated books for reading after the deadline.]
February/March: The Bloomer list is published in Booklist (historically, in the preface to Women’s History Month article).
May: Submit to FTF plans and description for the annual event.
Annual Conference: Each year committee members will present an event at Annual Conference. Work on this can be done during Midwinter meetings and via email/telephone. Committee members will seek out books at the exhibits to determine any that might be suitable for committee consideration and acquaint publisher reps with the work of the committee. Titles and publishers of promising titles will be recommended to the chair for request of review copies.
September/October: the year preceding the event submit specs to FTF: all room requirement details, any AV or internet access requirements, tags, audience, subject, and any other specs requested.
October 31: Deadline for nominations, midnight local time.
November: Confirm initial draft of the ABP press release with ALA-OLOS, coordinate with ALA-OLOS on timing of communication for Bloomer list press release.
Early December: Committee members will conduct a “straw poll” of the nominated books. Any books on which all members vote No will be stricken from consideration.
Midwinter: Committee members meet to discuss books as described above. Any committee members who are driving to the conference are urged to bring the books that they have. In the case that they are missing some books, those who are not driving but wish to have the book at the meetings can bring these books. In the case that no one is driving, the committee members will share the responsibility for bringing the books. Committee members may take these books to read between meetings, but all books brought to the conference are to be available for all meetings. Books brought to conference are retained by the committee member who brought them to donate to a library or other organization or individual of their choice or to retain for their own personal use. [Books that were provided as publisher review copies for the work of the committee are not sold for individual gain even if they are not nominated or placed on the list for that year.]