Downing wins award for promoting equality in library profession

Contact: Cheryl Malden

Program Officer

ALA Governance Office



For Immediate Release

March 3, 2009

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) is announcing that Karen Downing has received the 2009 Equality Award. This award, donated by Scarecrow Press, Inc., a member of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, honors an individual or group who has made an outstanding contribution toward promoting equality in the library profession.

Downing is foundation/grants and executive research service librarian with the University of Michigan Library.  She has also been the recipient of numerous awards, grants and honors, including the University of Michigan School of Information Diversity Award (2008); the ALA Diversity Research Grant (2007-08); and the University of Michigan Library Diversity Award (2001 and 2006).

She was selected for her accomplishments in promoting diversity and equality in the library profession, according to Jury Chair Eva Davis, Canton Public Library, Mich. These efforts include her pursuit of a doctoral degree, to be completed in spring 2009, regarding “The Relationship between Social Identity and Role Performance.” She received her master’s degree in information and library science and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan.

Nominator Alexandra Rivera, University of Arizona, noted that Downing is known for her mentorship of minorities and recruitment of students of color to the University of Michigan School of Information. Jury member Carla J. Stoffle, University of Arizona, said, “Ms. Downing has created an enduring legacy of positive change in librarianship by investing her energy, passion and dedication to fostering equality throughout the profession.” The several individuals who wrote letters supporting Downing for this award also point to the many positions she has held with ALA, particularly her work in launching ALA’s Spectrum Initiative.

In addition to her leadership roles on committees at the University of Michigan Libraries and the American Library Association (including terms on ALA Council and membership in REFORMA, the Black Caucus and the Social Responsibility Roundtable), Downing has served on numerous other committees, presented papers at professional conferences and contributed to many publications with articles on diversity, equality and minority recruitment to the library profession.

Members of the 2009 Equality Award jury were Eva M. Davis, Chair, Canton Public Library, Mich.; Rachel C. Crowley, Briar Cliff University, Iowa; Carla J. Stoffle, University of Arizona; Jane H. Tuten, University of South Carolina at Aiken; and Angela A. Williams, Syracuse University.

The 2009 Equality Award will be presented at the ALA Award Ceremony and Reception, prior to the Inaugural Banquet, on Tuesday, July 14, during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

The Deadline for submissions of applications for the 2010 Equality Award is Dec. 1, 2009. Guidelines and application forms are available at: