The Zora Neale Hurston Award

This annual award, founded in 2008, is given to any ALA member who has demonstrated leadership in promoting African American literature. To further the professional development of the winner so that he or she can continue to build multicultural collections and serve diverse populations, the winner receives a $1,250 monetary prize to fund travel expenses to the ALA Annual Conference, two tickets to the United for Libraries author events: The Gala Author Tea and The Laugh’s On Us, two complete sets of Zora Neale Hurston’s books and audiobooks and a beautiful personalized plaque. 

Candidates will be evaluated based on the quality and contribution of their project. Project examples include, but are not limited to, a program, display, collection building efforts, a special readers’ advisory focus, or innovation in service. Candidates will also be evaluated on the extent their projects promoted African American literature and highlighted its rich history and diversity. In addition, the candidate’s project should serve as a model for others, must be innovative and/or should advance service in this area. Candidates will also be evaluated based on the quality of their essay and the ideas expressed therein (clarity of content and form, clear goals and benefits of attendance, commitment to ALA and the library profession, enthusiasm, and potential growth perceived).



Interested candidates must complete the nomination form; they should also submit a nomination letter that describes their project. Photos, booklists, screen captures, or other forms of illustration of the project must be included. In addition, candidates should submit a brief (250) word essay explaining how attending the annual conference will help further their efforts to support and promote African American literature. Self-nominations are welcome.

Questions about the award should be directed to the committee chair, Deborah Abston,

The deadline for nominations is December 4, 2015.



Carolyn Garnes
Founder and CEO of Aunt Lil’s Reading Room


Dr. Grace Jackson-Brown
Assistant Professor of Library Science at Missouri State University


Lavonda Kay Broadnax
Digital Project Coordinator, Library of Congress


Vanessa Irvin Morris
Assistant Teaching Professor, Drexel University


Theresa Venable, Librarian for Children's Defense Fund Haley Farm's Langston Hughes Library
Venable was chosen for her work in library programming designed to promote African American authors and African American illustrators of children's picture books. Examples of Venable's programming include directing the 2009 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture sponsored by the Association of Library Service to Children and coordinating the 2010 Big Read sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Anthony Loum, Coordinator of Adult Library Services, Brooklyn Public Library
For his work planning and ensuring the quality of programs delivered by the Brooklyn Public Library in the 2009 Big Read for which Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was the chosen book.

2009 Miriam Rodriguez, Assistant Director, Public Services
Community Integration of the Dallas Public Library