Establishing a New Award with the American Library Association



A request that a new ALA or unit award be established may come from any member or unit of the Association or from any individual or group outside the Association interested in the recognition and development of libraries and librarianship.

The following points should be carefully considered before a new ALA award is established:

  1. The intent and purpose of the individual or group making the proposal or donating a sum of money to be used for awards purposes. ALA awards shall recognize significant achievements within the profession and not serve primarily as advertisements for the donor.
  2. The existence of already established awards in the same or similar areas of interest, since overlapping awards are to be avoided.
  3. The monetary return to the winner.

ALA awards are of four types. Effective 1995, the minimum amounts are as follows:

  • Grants - $10,000
  • Recognition - $5,000
  • Scholarships - $3,000
  • Conference Sponsorships - $1,000

Administrative Fees

In reviewing a request for a new award, the Awards Committee will consider the cost of administering an award. The administrative fee for new awards is 20% of the award amount, not to exceed $1,000. This administrative fee does not apply to the Endowment Scholarships. For awards by a unit of ALA, administrative costs estimated by the unit shall be included in the proposal and in budget requests as needed.

The purpose of the administrative fee shall be to pay for:

  1. costs of preparation, printing and distribution of award criteria and nomination forms
  2. costs for preparing appropriate citations and/or plaques
  3. publicity and promotion of the award
  4. expenses for the award presentation ceremonies

Administering the Proposed Award

The following should be determined based on the practicality of administering an award

  1. A workable set of objective standards for selecting a winner is needed.
  2. Awards demanding large or bulky mailings of material among jury members are to be avoided.
  3. The availability of appropriate candidates. (Awards for special projects, study, or writing are generally pursued by the individuals or groups intending to perform the work.)

Life Expectancy of the Award


  1. A date for the Awards Committee or unit to review and determine the continuation of an award should be set at the time an award is established. A trial period of three years is usual.
  2. Endowments to insure the continuation of recognized awards of five or more years standing are to be encouraged.

Preparing an Award Proposal

Ten copies of the award proposal must be submitted to the Awards Committee Staff Liaison or Chair one month prior to the Committee's regular meeting which is at least six months prior to the anticipated date of advertisement.

The Awards Committee shall consider each proposal at a regular meeting. It is useful for a representative of the ALA unit most closely concerned with the proposal to attend this meeting to answer questions and to hear the advice of the committee.

An Award Proposal should include:

  1. Name of Award
  2. Definition, Purpose, and Criteria: Specify the person(s) or group(s) eligible to receive the award, the purpose(s) for which the award will be given, and a brief outline of the criteria to be followed in selecting a winner.
  3. Number and Frequency of Award: Designate the number of possible recipients at any one time and the frequency with which the award is to be presented. State that if a suitable candidate is not found, the award will not be presented that year.
  4. Selection of Jury to Administer the Award: Indicate the person who appoints the committee to administer the award; what, if any, particular group or groups from which the juries will be chosen; the number of jury members and any special qualifications needed by the jury members.
  5. Deadline for Nomination of Candidates: Specify the date nominations are due and the form that nominations will take, e.g., a statement of outstanding contributions, etc. The dates of the Midwinter Meeting affect the date nominations are due. 
  6. Screening of Candidates and Recommendations: Indicate the process to be used in determining the award recipient.
  7. Presentation of the Award: Specify dates for the announcement and presentation of the award. ALA awards should be designated for presentation at an appropriate meeting, e.g. Inaugural Banquet, at the Annual Conference.
  8. Form and/or Type of Award: Designate the form and/or type of award to be given. (e.g. cash, citation, medal, etc.)
  9. Donor: Specify the individual, group, institution, etc. who will provide funds for both any cash award to be given and the administrative expenses incurred.
  10. Contact Person: name, address, and telephone number, fax or email.


Note: A copy must be submitted electronically to the Awards Committee staff liaison prior to the Midwinter Meeting or Annual Conference. The staff liaison will notify you when to attend the committee meeting for further discussion.

Questions or Concerns, contact the ALA Awards Office