Donna Coghill awarded the 2019 GLBTRT Newlen-Symons Award for Excellence in Serving the GLBT Community

For Immediate Release
Tue, 02/19/2019


Briana Jarnagin

Member Services Assistant

Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS)

CHICAGO – The American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) announced Donna E. Coghill, community engagement librarian and coordinator of campus partnerships, VCU Libraries, as the fourth recipient of the Newlen-Symons Award for Excellence in Serving the GLBT Community.

The award was established to honor a library, librarian, library staff member, library board and/or library friends groups who serve the GLBT community. Nominees are judged based on innovation, impact, sustainability and advocacy.

"The GLBTRT is proud to award the Newlen-Symons Award to Donna Coghill," GLBTRT Chair Ana Elisa de Campos Salles said. "Donna’s continuing efforts to create safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ students and staff, opportunities for staff to engage in diversity initiatives at the library and campus-wide, advocacy efforts for greater inclusivity, and ongoing work to train VCU and off-campus police in LGBTQIA+ safety training are just some of the ways in which she has made the LGBTQIA+ community at VCU not only welcome, but truly a part of the community. The award jury was deeply impressed with her years of dedication, advocacy, engagement, and the extent of her important work.”

“When people ask me where to start with being an ally, I always tell them the first step is speaking out. It’s not always easy to be a vocal ally for any diverse group, but I learned long ago that silence is complicity. If I can open the mind of one person, than I consider that day a success.” Coghill said.

“As librarians, we are, in many ways, a very visible profession. What we say and do resonates, and I’m fortunate to work in an environment that has been fully supportive of my LGBTQIA advocacy both on-and-off campus. I am thrilled to receive the Newlen-Symons Award, and look forward to continuing my activist, advocate, and ally journey.”

The Newlen-Symons Award for Excellence in Serving the GLBT Community will be presented on Monday, June 24, 2019, during the Stonewall Book Awards program at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

The award is funded by and named after Robert R. Newlen, and John W. and Ann K. Symons. Ann Symons is past-president and treasurer of the American Library Association and a past chair of GLBTRT.

To learn more about GLBTRT Awards, please visit

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association is the oldest professional association for GLBT people in the United States. It is committed to serving the information needs of the GLBT professional library community and information and access needs of individuals at large. It is home to GLBT Book Month (tm), a nationwide celebration every June and the Stonewall Book Award, the oldest award honoring GLBT books. GLBTRT is committed to encouraging and supporting the free and necessary access to all information, as reflected by the missions of the American Library Association and democratic institutions.