PLA Awards and Grants

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

Ten PLA awards and grants highlight the best in public library service and honor those bringing innovation, creativity, and dedication to public libraries. PLA President Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne, PhD, along with the award sponsors and PLA members, will recognize the award winners as part of the PLA Member Welcome Breakfast at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference this June in Washington, DC.

Congratulations to the PLA 2019 Award Winners

Allie Beth Martin Award
2019 Recipient:
Sondra Eklund
Youth Services Manager
City of Fairfax (VA) Regional 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
2019 Recipient:
Ivan O. Davis – Liberty (ME) Library

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
2019 Recipient:
Clyde Scoles
Toledo Lucas County (OH) Public 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 Baker & Taylor.

EBSCO Excellence in Rural Library Service Award
2019 Recipient:
Copper Queen Library (Bisbee, AZ)

Honors a public library serving a population of 10,000 or less with an upper per capita income limit of not more than the 75th quartile of the national average 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
2019 Recipient:
Fairfax County (VA) Public Library

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.

John Iliff Award
2019 Recipient:
Mark Williams
Chief Librarian & CEO
Milton (ON, Canada) Public Library

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 in 2018 by Innovative.

New Leaders Travel Grant
2019 Recipients:

Leah Dudak
Reference Librarian
Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County (OH)

Jessica Robertson
Cataloging Librarian – Collection Services
Central Rappahannock Regional Library (Fredericksburg, VA)

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.

PLA Library Innovation Award
2019 Recipient:
Southern Adirondack Library System (Saratoga Springs, NY)

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.

Romance Writers of America Library Grant
2019 Recipient:
Suffolk (VA) 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.

The Singer Group Helping Communities Come Together Award
2019 Recipient:
Sonoma County (CA) Library

Recognizes a public library’s ability to identify community needs specifically in times of crisis and division, and respond in creative and exemplary ways. The award consists of $1,000 and a plaque. Established in 2017. Sponsored by The Singer Group.

Public Libraries Feature Article Contest

2018 Feature Article Contest
For articles published in 2017

First Place: Nicolette Warisse SosulskiFirst Place: Nicolette Warisse Sosulski, for her article “Excuse Me, Is There a Loss Section? Readers Advisory to the Grieving and Bereaved" (March/April 2017)

Honorable Mention: Kyra HahnHonorable Mention: Kyra Hahn, for her article “Public Service Loan Forgiveness – The Struggle to Qualify is Real" (July/August 2017)

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 us at 312-280-5752 or