Honorary Membership

About the Honorary Membership
Honorary membership may be conferred on a living citizen of any country whose contribution to librarianship or a closely related field is so outstanding that it is of lasting importance to the advancement of the whole field of library service. It is intended to reflect honor upon the ALA as well as upon the individual.

Administered by:

American Library Association logo

Award and Frequency

A plaque and the following Honorary Member Benefits:

  • ALA membership dues waived for life
  • Complimentary conference registration for all ALA Midwinter Meetings and Annual Conferences for life
  • Special invitations to conference events
  • Life membership in all ALA divisions (as desired)
  • Complimentary copies of all ALA division journals (as desired)
  • Listing in the special Honorary Member section of the ALA Handbook of Organization web listing
  • Listing on the ALA VIP list to receive complimentary registration and preferential housing assignments at all future ALA Midwinter Meetings and Annual Conferences.
This award is given out on an annual basis.

Application Instructions

To nominate an individual to Honorary Membership, complete the online ALA Honorary Member Nomination Form. The form and all attachments must be received by September 1, 2021. Late nominations will not be considered.

If you have questions, please contact

Cheryl Malden
Program Officer, Office of ALA Governance

Contact Information

Cheryl Malden
Office of ALA Governance
225 N Michigan Ave
Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60601

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Selection Criteria

To be eligible for honorary membership, a person should be so outstanding that there can be no question about his/her suitability.
   1. The designation should recognize the contribution of an individual per se, rather than that of an individual representing the accomplishments of many.
   2. The person elected to honorary membership should be of such caliber as to reflect honor upon ALA by this designation.
   3. Honorary membership should be conferred because of a contribution of more than passing interest and of more than local or regional achievement. The contribution may be to librarianship or to a closely related field.
   4. The recipient may be a librarian or a person in a related field.
Criteria were developed by the ALA Executive Board Committee on Honorary Members, Special Nominations and Assignments (Kathleen Molz, Norman Horrocks, and Eric Moon, Chair) and approved by the ALA Executive Board, June, 1979.



  • September: Deadline for submission of nominations
  • October: ALA Executive Board reviews applications at its Fall meeting
  • January (two weeks before the ALA Midwinter Meeting): ALA Executive Board forwards recommendations to ALA Council
  • ALA Midwinter Meeting: Council elects Honorary Members
  • June (ALA Annual Conference): Newly elected Honorary Members receive award plaques at the conference Opening General Session