For immediate release | January 25, 2011

Venable wins RUSA’s Zora Neale Hurston Award

CHICAGO — Theresa Venable, librarian at the Children’s Defense Fund Haley Farm’s Langston Hughes Library, has been selected as the 2011 winner of the Zora Neale Hurston Award.

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.
The 2009 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture focused on African-American authors and illustrators of children’s literature. The lecture by noted children’s author Walter Dean Myers was accompanied by workshops, a panel discussion and an art show featuring favorite African-American children’s books.
The 2010 Big Read featured “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston. Venable worked with local high schools to present an afternoon program that included dramatic vignettes, reader’s theater and lectures for adults and children.
The Zora Neale Hurston Award is administered by the Collection Development and Evaluation Section of the Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association. This award recognizes an American Library Association member for significant efforts to promote African-American authors and literature. Through the generous sponsorship of HarperCollins, the award enables the winner to further their professional development to continue this work.
Venable was selected by the 2011 Zora Neale Hurston Award Committee, whose members include Cynthia Crosser (chair) and Amy Harmon.
The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Not a member, but interested in discounted registration rates on conference, preconferences and other events? Join, renew or add RUSA to your ALA membership at Learn more about the association at


Elizabeth Markel