For immediate release | February 2, 2021

Applications sought for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity

CHICAGO — Librarians face adversity every day, whether they are defending a challenged book, responding to collection and building damage after floods and fires, remaining open as a safe space during civil unrest, or fighting to provide services on a limited budget.

If you know a librarian who has gone above and beyond the normal requirements of librarianship to stand up in the face of adversity with dignity and honor, please consider giving that person some much needed recognition by nominating them for the 2020 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity.

ALA is currently accepting nominations through Monday, March 1, 2021 for this award. The prize consists of $10,000 along with an odd, symbolic object from Snicket’s private stash, and a certificate. The nominee must be a librarian.

Past winners include:

2020 Heather Ogilvie, outreach librarian, at Bay County Public Library, Panama City, Florida

For being a community champion and a beacon of hope for Bay County in the aftermath of the devastating natural disaster of Hurricane Michael

2018 Diana Haneski, library media specialist at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and Yvonne Cech, library director of the Brookfield Library in Brookfield, Connecticut (2018)

Haneski shielded 50 high school students and four adults from harm in a large, equipment room. She remembered her friend Cech’s quick thinking and advice, and she acted accordingly. Cech, a library media specialist at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, herded the students to a storage closet locked the door and barricaded it with book trucks and other available objects until the SWAT team arrived.

2017 Steven Woolfolk, director of programming and marketing at the Kansas City Public Library

When Woolfolk intervened during a controversy and protested the police action in defense of Rothe-Kushel’s basic First Amendment rights, he was taken into custody by police and charged with interfering with an arrest, suffering a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee from being kneed in the leg by an officer.

2016 Melanie Townsend Diggs, Pennsylvania Avenue branch manager of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library

She helped keep patrons safe in the civil unrest and protests following the shooting of Freddie Gray.

2015 Scott Bonner, director of the Ferguson Public Library in Missouri

Bonner kept the branch open and engaged in the midst of the Ferguson riots.

2014 Laurence Copel, youth outreach librarian

Copel opened the Lower Ninth Ward Street Library in her home and converted her bicycle to a mobile book carrier to reach children and families in weather-damaged areas of New Orleans.

“This award honors the significant sacrifices and contributions librarians make to defend the rights, improve the quality of life and preserve the safety of their communities”, said ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. “ Selflessly confronting extreme hardships comes naturally to many librarians and they should be recognized.”

Lemony Snicket, in establishing this award, hopes that “the Snicket Prize will remind readers everywhere of the joyous importance of librarians and the trouble that is all too frequently unleashed upon them.”

To find out more information about the award, including how to nominate candidates, visit

For more information, please contact:

Cheryl Malden

Program Officer

American Library Association



Cheryl M Malden

Program Officer

American Library Association