The Newlen-Symons Award for Excellence

Presented by the Rainbow Round Table (RRT), the Newlen-Symons Award honors a librarian, library staff member, library, library board, and/or library friends group who have designed programs and/or initiatives responsive to the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community.

The purpose of the Award is to promote excellence in serving the LGBTQIA+ community by highlighting individuals and organizations with innovative programs and/or initiatives. By honoring programs and/or initiatives with demonstrated impact on the LGBTQIA+ community that have been sustained over a period of time, this Award seeks to 1) increase the number of services to or for the LGBTQIA+ community in libraries, and 2) enhance the quality and sustainability of such services.

Libraries, individual librarians, library staff, library boards, and/or library friends groups are eligible for the award. Nominees must show evidence of relevant library initiatives that promote excellence in library services to or for the LGBTQIA+ community in one or more of the following ways:

  • Collaboration with other school, campus or community groups
  • LGBTQIA+ programming, events and activities
  • LGBTQIA+ collections
  • Development of inclusive policies or benefits for employees

The Award includes a framed citation and a cash award presented in a check for $1,000. One Award will be given annually to an eligible individual, organization or group. If a suitable candidate is not found, the award will not be presented in a given year.

Award List


Nominees will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Innovation: evidence of the quality, creativity, relevance, and effectiveness of the program or initiative developed by nominee including revisions made to improve success
  • Impact: evidence of impact on LGBTQIA+ community, additionally demonstration of community partnerships and coalitions, and/or successful outreach
  • Sustainability: evidence of a program and/or initiative’s success over a period of time, demonstration of institutional support for program and/or initiative
  • Advocacy: evidence of leadership in advocacy (service appointments, other awards, etc.) and visibility and awareness of efforts at institutional, local, regional and national level

*Please note: the Newlen-Symons Award is not an intellectual freedom award, as it focuses instead on excellence in library services and outreach to the LGBTQIA+ community.


Nominations for the 2022 award will close in Late March.

Submission must be online. A letter of nomination is required along with at least 5 but no more than ten supporting documents. Supporting documents can include letters of support, statements of outstanding contributions, copies of presentations, links to resources created, and other evidence. Only the materials submitted as part of the nomination package will be considered.


Members of the current award jury, their families, or members of their households are ineligible to receive the Award. Donors to the award are ineligible to receive the award to prevent the appearance of impropriety. Current RainbowRT Executive Board members are also ineligible.

Apply for the award here.


For assistance, please contact the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services at, or toll-free at 800-545-2433, ext. 4297.