Eliza Atkins Gleason Book Award

The Eliza Atkins Gleason Book Award is presented by the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association every third year to recognize the best book written in English in the field of library history. The award bears the name of Eliza Atkins Gleason, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in Library Science, from University of Chicago in 1940. Her book, The Southern Negro and the Public Library (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1941), traced the history of library service to African Americans up to that time and laid the foundation for all subsequent scholarship on that aspect of library history.

Eligibility and Criteria

Books published in the three preceding calendar years are eligible; e.g. books that appeared in 2022, 2023, and 2024 will be eligible for the award in 2025. Bibliographies and edited collections will not be considered. Entries are judged on quality of scholarship, clarity of style, and depth of research. The round table is particularly interested in works that place the subject within its broader historical, social, cultural, and political context and make interdisciplinary connections with print culture and information studies.

Nominations and Selection

The Gleason Book Award Committee, a subcommittee of the Research Committee of the Library History Round Table, serves as jury for the award. Nominations are welcome from all interested parties and should include a brief statement explaining why the book is worthy of consideration for the Gleason Book Award and, preferably, three copies of the nominated book. Before submitting a nomination, please contact the chair to see if the book has already been nominated.

The Gleason Award will be given next in 2025.

Presentation of the Award

The winner will be announced in a press release on or about June 1st of the award year. Certificates honoring the author and publisher of the Gleason Book Award winner will be presented at a Library History Round Table awards ceremony during the American Library Association Annual Conference.

Committee Members


Previous Winners

2022              Rebecka Taves Sheffield
                      Documenting Rebellions: A Study of Four Lesbian and Gay Archives in Queer Times
                      Sacramento, CA: Litwin Books, 2020

2019               Wayne Wiegand and Shirley Wiegand
                      The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism
                       Louisiana State University Press, 2018                         

2016                Dr. Cheryl Knott
                        Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow
                        University of Massachusetts Press, 2015

2013                Christine Pawley
                        Reading Places:  Literacy, Democracy, and the Public Library in Cold War America 
                        Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2010

2010                David Allan, University of St. Andrews
                        A Nation of Readers: The Lending Library in Georgian England
                        London: British Library, 2008

2007                Carl Ostrowski
                        Books, Maps, and Politics: a Cultural History of the Library of Congress, 1783-1861
                        Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2004

2004                Louise Robbins
                        The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library
                        Norman: University of Oklahoma Press