Julius C. Jefferson Jr. wins the Joseph W. Lippincott Award

For Immediate Release
Mon, 05/01/2023


Cheryl Malden

Program Officer


American Library Association



Julius C. Jefferson Jr. is the recipient of the 2023 Joseph W. Lippincott Award.  This award is sponsored by Joseph W. Lippincott III and presented by the American Library Association (ALA) for distinguished service in the profession of librarianship.


The Jury for the 2023 Joseph W. Lippincott Award is pleased to honor Jefferson for his lifelong mentoring of librarians and library workers; commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI); and for leadership in the profession in a variety of roles, most notably during the pandemic.  


During his service as President of ALA (2020-21), he led the association through one of the most challenging periods in its history.  A colleague who wrote in support of Jefferson’s nomination noted “as ALA chief spokesperson, Julius advocated for COVID relief funding to libraries…adjusted to our virtual environment and presided over the governing body, Council.”  During his presidential term he created ALA Holding Space:  a national conversation series with libraries, a nationwide virtual tour to highlight the innovation and impact of a diverse range of libraries and to engage stakeholders to advocate for libraries and the communities they serve.


Jefferson has a long and distinguished record of service in a variety of professional associations.  He served on the Board of the Freedom to Read Foundation (2012-16) and was president of this organization from 2013-16.  He served as president of the District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA) as well as on the board of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA).  Other ALA service includes service on the Finance and Audit Committee, the Budget Analysis and Review Committee and the Intellectual Freedom Committee, serving as the 2010-11 Chair.  Jefferson is currently the 2021-2023 Chair of the International Federation of Library Associations & Institutions (IFLA), North American Regional Division. 


In 2022 President Joe Biden appointed Jefferson to the National Museum and Library Services Board which advises the agency on general policies with respect to the duties, powers, and authority of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) relating to museum, library, and information services, as well as the annual selection of National Medal recipients.


Jefferson’s dedication and contributions to EDI have been hallmarks of his career.  Many librarians can attest to the guidance and encouragement he has provided over many years.  Especially notable is his contribution to The 21st-Century Black Librarian in America:  Issues and Challenges of which he was co-editor.  During his term as ALA President, he led efforts to diversify conference speakers and created a midwinter session on microaggressions.


As a fourth generation Washingtonian, Jefferson currently serves as Section Head of the Research and Library Services Section in the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division with the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.  He made significant contributions to the management and delivery of critical research services during the pandemic while serving as the Acting Chief of the Library’s Research and Reference Services division in the General and International Collections of Library Services. 


The annual award, consisting of $ 1,500 and a citation of achievement, will be presented at the ALA Conference in Chicago in June 2023.


Members of the Joseph W. Lippincott Award Jury are Chair, Robert R. Newlen, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Dwight D. Opperman Foundation; Dora T. Ho, retired, Los Angeles Public Library; Sandy Wee, Library Services Manager, San Mateo County Libraries (CA); Jolee J. Hamlin, Senior Associate Director of Public Service, Capital Area Library Services (MI); Elizabeth Nelson, Cataloging & Collection Development Librarian and Library Department Chair, McHenry County College (IL); and Rebecca Gerald, SLS Coordinator, Dutchess Boses School Library System (NY).