PLA Awards and Grants

PLA’s awards programs has been designed to honor those providing public library service whose vision and accomplishments are extraordinary and deserve recognition.

Congratulations to the PLA 2015 Award Winners

PLA President Larry Neal, along with the award sponsors and PLA members, recognized all of the award winners as part of the PLA Member Welcome Breakfast on Saturday, June 27, 2015, at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco, Calif.

2015 Service Awards and Grants

Allie Beth Martin Award
2015 Recipient: Mary Olson, readers’ advisory librarian, Medina County (Ohio) District Library
Honors a librarian who, in a public library setting, has demonstrated extraordinary range and depth of knowledge about books or other library materials and has distinguished ability to share that knowledge. A plaque and a $3,000 honorarium are presented annually at the ALA Annual Conference. Established in 1977 in honor of Allie Beth Martin. Sponsored by Baker & Taylor.

Baker & Taylor Entertainment Audio Music / Video Product Award
2015 Recipient: Edna Zybell Memorial Library, Clarence, Iowa
Designed to provide a public library the opportunity to build or expand a collection of either or both formats in whatever proportion the library chooses. The grant consists of $2,500 of Audio Music or Video Products. Sponsored by Baker & Taylor.

Charlie Robinson Award
2015 Recipient: Maxine Bleiweis, executive director, Westport (Conn.) Library
Honors a public library director who, over a period of seven (7) years, has been a risk taker, an innovator and/or a change agent in a public library. The recipient should have been active in national and other professional associations and be known for developing and implementing programs which are responsive to the needs of community residents. The award consists of $1,000 and a gift. The public library director will be honored at the ALA Annual Conference. Established in 1997. Sponsored by the Baker & Taylor.

Demco New Leaders Travel Grant
2015 Recipients: Jennifer Hannibal, tween librarian, Allen Park (Mich.) Public Library; Trinity Lescallett, adult services manager, Tiffin-Seneca (Ohio) Public Library; Eric Soriano, e-services librarian III, Jacksonville (Fla.) Public Library; and Sara White, youth services librarian, Seminole County (Fla.) Public Library
Designed to enhance the professional development and improve the expertise of public librarians new to the field by making possible their attendance at major professional development activities. Plaques and travel grants of up to $1,500 per applicant are presented annually at the ALA Annual Conference. Established in 1993. The name of this grant was changed in October 2004. This grant is sponsored by Demco, Inc.

EBSCO Excellence in Small and/or Rural Public Library Service Award
2015 Recipient: San Juan Island Library, Friday Harbor, Wash.
Honors a public library serving a population of 10,000 or less that demonstrates excellence of service to its community as exemplified by an overall service program or a special program of significant accomplishment. A plaque and a $1,000 honorarium are presented annually at the ALA Annual Conference. Established in 1991. Sponsored by EBSCO Information Services.

Gordon M. Conable Award
Honors a public library staff member, a library trustee, or a public library, that has demonstrated a commitment to intellectual freedom and the Library Bill of Rights. The award consists of $1,500 and a plaque to be presented annually at the ALA Annual Conference. Sponsored by LSSI.

John Iliff Award
2015 Recipient: Oli Sanidas, director of digital and library material services, Arapahoe (Colo.) Library District
Honors the life and accomplishments of John Iliff, early adopter and champion of technology in public libraries, and recognizes the contributions of a library worker, librarian, or library that has used technology and innovative thinking as a tool to improve services to public library users. The award provides a $1,000 honorarium, a plaque and a bouquet of roses for the workplace. Sponsored by Innovative.

Romance Writers of America Library Grant
2015 Recipient: Auburn (Ga.) Public Library
Designed to provide a public library the opportunity to build or expand its romance fiction collection and/or host romance fiction programming. The grant consists of $4,500 to be used toward the purchase of books in print and/or audio format, author honorariums and travel expenses, and other applicable program expenses. Sponsored by the Romance Writers of America.

Upstart Innovation Award
2015 Recipient: Grand Rapids (Mich.) Public Library
Recognizes a public library’s innovative and creative service program to the community. A plaque and a $2,000 honorarium are presented annually at the ALA Annual Conference. Sponsored by Upstart, a Demco company.

Other Awards

Public Libraries Feature Article Contest
First Place: Catherine Bloomquist, library literacy coordinator, Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Library, for the article "Mentoring Gen-X Librarians," May/June 2014 issue
Honorable Mention: Kenya Johnson, communications manager; Amber Mathewson, deputy director; and Karyn Prechtel, deputy director, Pima County (Ariz.) Public Library System, for the article "From Crisis to Collaboration: Pima County Public Library partners with Health Department for Library Nurse Program," January/February 2014 issue
Awards cash prizes to the authors of the best feature articles written by public librarians and published in the previous year’s issues of Public Libraries magazine.

Contact Us

If your organization is interested in sponsoring a PLA award or if you have any questions regarding awards, please contact Julianna Kloeppel, program coordinator, at 312-280-5026 or