My school is lucky. We have connections with talented people and organizations, and we have the financial support to sometimes host visiting authors and illustrators. With so many community connections as well as the rise of self-publishing, however, earlier last year we getting overwhelmed by requests. We had to start graciously turning down offers from potential visitors. I had to be prepared to articulate WHY we were saying “thanks but no thanks,” and I wanted to be fair.
So, I made this author/illustrator visit policy and rubric:
Author Visit Policy: The following rubric will be used by the library when determining whether or not to host a specific author or illustrator to present for the school community. A visit from an author/illustrator scoring less than 12 may not be supported by the library.
|3||Presentation has been initiated by part of the library team.||Author/illustrator, the presentation, and/or the author’s book(s) relate to the school’s greater curriculum and/or Strategic Plan.||Students and teachers demonstrate interest in the author and/or book(s).||The author’s books have received positive reviews in professional journals and/or book(s) have received prestigious literary awards.||The author visit is free and/or being funded through donor support.|
|2||Presentation has been initiated by someone in the faculty/staff community but outside of the Library Team.||Author/illustrator, the presentation, and/or the book(s) relate to only the school’s library curriculum.||Either the student population or teachers are interested in the author and/or book(s).||Librarians have previewed the material and decided book is of standard quality—very few reviews available but those in existence are professional and favorable.||There is a required honorarium and/or the library must pay for author fees.|
|1||Presentation has been initiated by someone outside of the faculty/staff community.||There are very few curricular or Strategic Plan connections between the author/illustrator and the school community.||There is little interest in the author and/or book(s) amongst the school community.||Reviews of the book are not favorable or the librarians have decided that the quality is poor using professional evaluative techniques.||Honorarium is required and the visit costs more than the library budget can support.|
To test our rubric, we ran all of our recent author/illustrator visits through it. For us, it works. The only feedback I received from colleagues was that I should change the numbers to be 2-1-0 so that we don’t have to give any points to the topics at the lower end of the spectrum. I get that idea, but I’m O.K. with giving them a 1.
I’ve only had to say no one time since I created it, and it was for an offer from an author who emailed me out of the blue. The author didn’t question our decision, but I felt a lot better with this on record.
Do you have an author visit policy at your school or library? Is it connected to your selection policy, or did you have to create your own separate document? I’d love to learn about how other schools make these decisions.