The Canadian Federation for the Humanities and the Social Sciences began a campaign to raise the profile of its 68-year-old Aid to Scholarly Publications Program by changing the way books are nominated for annual prizes, and by aiming to more than double the value of the prize awards.
Since 1941, the federation’s ASPP has provided grants to scholars to help them publish their works. Among the 6,000 authors to receive funding over the years were such literary giants as Northrop Frye and Antonine Maillet. Last year, the ASPP gave 185 grants worth $8,000 each; the money helped publish 180 works and translate five more.
The best books published each year through the ASPP are eligible for one of four $1,000 prizes: the Harold Adams Innis Prize for the social sciences and the Raymond Klibansky Prize for the humanities in English; and the Prix Jean-Charles-Falardeau for the social sciences and Prix Raymond-Klibansky for the humanities in French.
Alison Faulknor, CFHSS director of programs and the person responsible for the ASPP, says the best way to raise the profile of the program is to raise the profile of the prizes. So the federation plans to increase the value of each prize to $2,500 and to give the awards at the CFHSS annual general meeting, usually held in March, instead of announcing them later in the year.
The federation is also streamlining the way books are nominated for a prize.
Until now, all ASPP-supported books could be considered for a prize. From now on, publishers will nominate the books they think are prize-worthy. Ms. Faulknor says this will cut down considerably on the number of titles being considered and ease the job of the jury members who select the winners. (The ASPP maintains a list of eligible publishers, who must conform to federal department of Canadian Heritage rules for being recognized as a Canadian publisher.)
Funding for the ASPP comes from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, but the book prize itself is funded by the federation, explains federation spokesman Pierre Normand. So the federation has started asking publishers, authors and people in the humanities and social sciences for donations. Besides increasing the value of each prize, the donations will be used to make the awards program self-sustaining and to create a buzz around the awards, through newspaper ads or other forms of publicity. “We should be boasting about the ASPP,” says Ms. Faulknor.