RUSA announces new award honoring work, legacy of Zora Neale Hurston

Contact: Liz Markel

RUSA Marketing Specialist

(312) 280-4398


For Immediate Release

August 5, 2008

RUSA announces new award honoring work, legacy of Zora Neale Hurston

Chicago—The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), will honor the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston, a prominent voice in African American literature, with a new award sponsored by Harper Perennial Publishing, a division of HarperCollins.

The Zora Neale Hurston Award will recognize the efforts of a RUSA member who promotes African American literature through a program, readers’ advisory project or similar efforts in their library community.

The award will also further the professional development of the recipient by financing attendance at the ALA Annual Conference and providing tickets to the Literary Tastes breakfast and the FOLUSA Author tea. Award winners will receive a set of the Zora Neale Hurston books published by Harper Perennial.

According to the HarperCollins web site, Hurston was born in Notasulga, Ala., in 1891. She was closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance literary movement, and is considered the most significant African American woman writer of the early 20th century. Her body of work, including “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” has preserved much of the African American storytelling culture. She died in 1960.

“I am delighted that RUSA will be part of honoring the legacy of Zora Neale Hurston,” RUSA President Neal Wyatt said. “Part of RUSA’s focus is on collection development and readers’ advisory services, so it is particularly rewarding to have this award highlight the power of books in our communities. RUSA is grateful to Harper Perennial for making this award possible, and we look forward to joining them in celebrating both Ms. Hurston and the librarians who promote African American literature everyday.”

The deadline for nominations for this award is Dec. 1. Award winners will be announced at the following Midwinter meeting and will receive their awards at the subsequent Annual Conference.

The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association (, 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.