All-white Carnegie longlist controversy prompts CILIP 'review'

All-white Carnegie longlist controversy prompts CILIP 'review'

CILIP will launch an independent review of its Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals following the controversy that was sparked by its 2017 Carnegie Medal longlist, which did not include a single black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) writer.

The 20-strong longlist, which was announced last month, included big name authors such as Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff and Horatio Clare, but was criticised for not including a single BAME author.

In response, CILIP has announced an independent review of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals in order to identify how diversity, equality and inclusion can "best be championed and embedded into its work".

Nick Poole, CILIP chief executive, told The Bookseller, that a review of the association's diversity and equality plan had already been planned but that the controversy surrounding the longlist "accelerated and brought forward" the process of the review and highlighted the importance of factoring the medals in it. He added that the criticism has prompted "useful" conversation in the library and information sector.

"We feel it’s a been a really useful conversation to be able have with authors, with the sector, and with readers", Poole said. "It’s a useful opportunity to talk about some fairly complex and challenging issues. What we want to do is confront the issues head on and accept the wide range of views and opinions, and look at how we bring them in to mapping out a positive way forward. We think [the review] is a good opportunity to be celebrating diversity in children’s literature."

Poole continued: "We’re not in any way shying away from criticism that’s been raised. We’re really aware of structural inequalities that need to be addressed in society, aware of opportunities for diversity to be joyful and celebratory, particularly through the medium of children’s literature – it’s a wonderful platform to be celebrating diverse identities. It's great that conversation has started, and I think that it’s an opportunity to really make the most of our position as librarians."

According to CILIP, the review will be "open, transparent and accountable" and will "proactively seek views and contributions from the widest possible range of stakeholders". It will inform the annual evaluation process and long-term planning around the medals and accompanying shadowing scheme.

The review will begin following the announcement of the 2017 winners in June and follow the 2018 prize cycle.

Tricia Adams, chair of the Youth Libraries Group National Committee and chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards judging panel, said that the medals' judges are "completely committed" to "championing diversity, equality and inclusion and challenging issues of structural inequality in a positive and constructive way.”

The review of the medals will form part of the organisation’s wider Equality and Diversity Action Plan, which will be led by the CILIP Ethics Committee and the Board of Trustees. The plan will be published in the summer of 2017.

The plan is as a result of on-going work, following previously published research commissioned in 2015 by CILIP and the Archives and Records Association, which outlined diversity issues in the library, archives, records, information management and knowledge management sector. The research highlighted a gender split in the workforce of 78.1% female to 21.9% male (the UK workforce is 50.1% female and 49.9% male), and that 96.7% of the workforce identify as white, which is higher than the overall UK workforce which sees 87.5% identify as white.

CILIP’s Action Plan will identify steps in both the short and long-term to improve and champion equality and diversity within CILIP, its governance, membership and the wider library and information sector.

Poole added: “We are committed to championing diversity, equality and inclusion through all of CILIP’s activities, from the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals to the wider library and information sector, while also confronting and challenging structures of inequality. We know there are long-standing and embedded challenges and we see this as a tremendous opportunity to promote positive change for ourselves and the sector."

The shortlist for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals will be announced on Thursday 16th March 2017. The winners of the Medals, and the Amnesty CILIP Honour (which commends human rights in children’s literature), will be announced on 19th June 2017.