Carole Monlux, Missoula County Schools Librarian, and Bette Ammon, Missoula Public Library (now Director of the Coeur D'Alene Public Library), established Montana's picture book award, The Treasure State Award, in 1990. They wanted an award program for younger children because for over 50 years, students in grades fourth through eighth have been participating in the Pacific Northwest Library Association's Young Reader's Choice Award. Their purpose was and continues to be to foster reading for pleasure, encourage critical reading skills, and expose readers and listeners to a variety of authors and illustrators. The criteria for selection are relatively simple. Anyone can nominate titles for the ballot of five picture books. These nominated titles need to have been published within the last five years and are chosen for their powerful appeal to readers and listeners. Some nominations are submitted along with voting tallies. Students in grades K-3 vote during the first two weeks in March, and they must read or listen to all five titles on the ballot. The book receiving the most votes is the winner. Over 9,500 children have cast ballots over the years. Originally intended just for the Missoula area, the program rapidly gained participants throughout the state.