ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award

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DellaEngage! participants at Chicago Public Library Austin BranchClass visit to the In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak traveling exhibition at the Lousville Free Public Library (KY)Historical reenactors at the Knox County Public Library (IN) presentation of the Forever Free traveling exhibition

Sponsored by the ALA Cultural Communities Fund

What is the Award?

The ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award recognizes a library that demonstrates excellence in library programming by creating a cultural/thematic program type or program series, presented during the preceding year (September 1, 2012 - August 31, 2013), that engages the community in planning, sponsorship and/or active participation, addresses an identified community need, and has a measurable impact.

The Award consists of $5,000 and a citation of achievement, to be presented during the ALA Award Presentation at the ALA Annual Conference.

How Do I Apply?

Applications will be accepted online for the 2013 ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award until December 1, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

Applicants are advised to read the application selection criteria and guidelines before beginning the online application process. 

To begin the application process, go to  To access a PDF copy of the full application, click here.

What Is a Cultural/Thematic Program?

A cultural/thematic program is one that features the humanities, sciences, arts, creative arts, community and civic engagement programs, as well as programs in conjunction with exhibitions, community-wide reading programs, or other community-wide programs.  The nominated program should have engaged the community in planning, sponsorship and/or active participation, addressed an identified community need, and have had a measurable impact.

What Types of Libraries are Eligible?

In recognition that programming is an essential part of service delivery in all types of libraries, school, public, academic, and special libraries are all eligible.  The nominated program/series must have been for a public audience. 

Who Are the Past Winners?

  • 2013 - Carbondale (Ill.) Public Library

The Carbondale Public Library and its community partners created 11 Days for Compassion in response to a local Occupy movement and a strike at the university that resulted in discussions and peaceful protests, as well as abusive rants in the newspaper.  The program brought together more than 35 organizations, businesses and individuals to host, lead and promote compassion-themed discussions and events for the community over an 11 day period.  Major partners were the Carbondale Human Relations Commission and the Nonviolent Carbondale Group, which includes dozens of organizations and individuals. The intent was to give the community a safe symbolic way to face itself in retrospect and to learn more about compassion for future interactions. The program was partly funded through a grant from the American Library Association and the Fetzer Institute: “Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion.”

Press release: Carbondale Public Library Wins 2013 ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award

What is the Cultural Communities Fund?

The ALA Cultural Communities Fund (CCF) is an endowment to support cultural programming in libraries.  Funding from CCF supports:

  • professional development opportunities for libraries that address practical issues related to cultural and community programs
  • awards and grants that recognize excellence in library programming
  • development and promotion of effective library programming models

To learn more about the CCF, please visit