Sunday, September 20, 2009


The Cybils began as a simple enough idea; frustrated at the either/or talk around awards time (a book is either literary or popular, and never the twain shall meet), bloggers Kelly Herold and Anne Boles Levy decided, why not an award that recognizes the book that has both? That specifically in its criteria requires a good, popular book?

And thus the Cybils were born. For the first two years, I was heavily involved. Then, last year, my reading load for the Printz caused me to bow out of being involved; this year, I decided to also sit back and be lazy and instead enjoy the hard work of others. (I also got appointed to the Schneider Family Book Award; so much for being lazy).

Kelly, Anne, and the others involved with the Cybils are (and have been) transparent about the Cybils. The "about us" section of the website goes into more detail about the Cybils and how it is run. Who is involved? Team Cybils 09, complete with names and blogs, are all on one of the sidebars at the Cybils website. In addition, each category organizer is right now introducing themselves on the Cybils blog, such as Liz Jones, Graphic Novels organizer.

Starting October 1 to October 15, nominate a title (see the Cybils website for details on publication date). Check the categories and make sure you pick the right category! Part of the job of Team Cybils is to make sure the nominated title is indeed eligible and in the right category. All of this is right on the Cybils blog and website.

Then the round one judges  -- (whose names, blogs, and categories they are panelists for are all public knowledge) -- step into the picture and read the books on the nominated list. While publishers sometimes send review copies of nominated books, those who agree to be judges have a responsibility to read the books and to obtain books on their own if necessary. The judges then have confidential discussions and voting to achieve a shortlist that is announced on January. While the discussions are confidential, often the judges will blog about their reading.

The titles are now handed off to the round two judges (who, like the round one judges, are publicly listed on the Cybils website, complete with names and blogs), who read just the shortlist; have confidential discussions and voting; and announce a winner. Usually, these judges don't blog about the shortlist during this time (tho, many have already read and blogged about the titles.)

The current Cybils crew have been at hard at work, creating the lists of rounds one and two judges. This stage is part public  -- here is the request for panelists and judges this year -- but the deciding who gets what is less so. There are a tremendous amount of bloggers and blogs to review; decisions to be made about round one or round two judges; what person to match to what category; the balance between new blood and those involved in the past; etc. Then the judges lists are announced.

October 1st is fast approaching; go, review the criteria, and start thinking about what book you want to nominate!

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

1 comment:

Carol H Rasco said...

Thank you for this very helpful overview/history!