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In response: Book awards encourage diverse works representing our region

A Sept. 13 Local View commentary urged the University of Minnesota Duluth Library, the Friends of the Duluth Public Library and the Lake Superior Writers group to change the criteria of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards in order to consider ...

A Sept. 13 Local View commentary urged the University of Minnesota Duluth Library, the Friends of the Duluth Public Library and the Lake Superior Writers group to change the criteria of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards in order to consider books written by residents of the area regardless of the subject matter of their titles.

The Minnesota Book Awards, sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, specifically honor Minnesota authors and books. Books created by writers, illustrators or book artists who are current Minnesota residents, including authors from Northeastern Minnesota, are eligible for Minnesota Book Awards.

Since the Minnesota Book Awards focuses on the Minnesota resident status of the author, the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards' concentration on the content of books offers an opportunity to recognize and foster works about our particular geographic area. Authors who reside anywhere in the United States and beyond can create these works.

The intent of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards is to recognize books that substantially represent Northeastern Minnesota in the areas of history, culture, heritage or lifestyle. From its conception, the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards has encouraged creative and diverse works representing and celebrating our region. With this intention, the history and heritage of our region are preserved in book form for library collections and researchers.

In addition to honoring writers whose works focus on the Northland, we offer other publishers and writers the opportunity to participate in a book fair associated with the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards event. We have endeavored to make the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards truly an inspiring experience for the entire community.

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In May 2011 the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards will present its 23rd annual awards gala. In these 23 years, the awards have grown from the recognition of one overall winner and one honorable mention to the recognition of a winner and honorable mention in six categories: fiction, poetry, general nonfiction, children's literature, memoir and creative nonfiction, and art and photography. This growth is due in large part to the plethora of talented writers, illustrators, artists, photographers and publishers who highlight some aspect of Northeastern Minnesota in the books they create. We hope that the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards helps to foster and support their creative work.

As the commentary writer stated, "Northeastern Minnesota is a place of diverse talents, interests and views." It is also a place with a unique history, culture, heritage and lifestyle. The Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards celebrates and honors this uniqueness and diversity.

Bill Sozansky of Duluth is director of the University of Minnesota Duluth library and Adele Krusz of Canyon is president of the Friends of the Duluth Public Library.

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