VLA Awards

2021 VLA Award Winners

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) has selected winners for the 2021 association awards from a very competitive application pool. Librarians and library project teams from academic, public, and special libraries across the commonwealth are honored for their exemplary contributions to their communities and profession in 2020. All Virginia Library Association award winners will be honored at the Awards Celebration on Wednesday evening, October 27, 2021, at the Richmond Marriot, in conjunction with the VLA Annual Conference. For more information about this event, see our conference website. For details about each winner and their accomplishments, please visit the announcement page.


2020 Winners

The Virginia Library Association is as excited as you are to hear who won the 2021 VLA Awards. Can't wait to hear who won? Read about our 2020 VLA Award winners to get you excited for this year's announcement.

List of Awards

In order to celebrate the accomplishments of those who support and transform libraries throughout the Commonwealth, the Virginia Library Association, through the hard work of the Awards and Recognition Committee, offers a number of awards. Winners are honored every year at the Virginia Library Association Annual Conference.

Academic Innovator Award

This award recognizes academic librarians or academic project teams who have made an outstanding contribution to advance the mission of an academic library in Virginia through an innovative project, program or service during the nomination period.

  • Nominees must be employed by or associated with an academic or research library.
  • Projects, programs, or services should demonstrate creativity, quality, and innovation within the context of an academic institution. Innovation is defined as creating something new or introducing new methods with great results.  Innovation will be considered very broadly and is not limited to technology.

The award consists of a certificate or plaque presented at the Annual Conference and a complimentary ticket to the Scholarship and Awards Banquet.


Donna G. Cote Librarian of the Year Award

The award recognizes exemplary achievement of a working Virginia librarian who has made a significant contribution(s) at any level of librarianship during the nomination period. The award is named after Ms. Cote who worked for the award-winning Central Rappahannock Regional Library for 44 years, serving as Library Director for 34 years. A dedicated public servant and visionary leader, she made access for all her motto and provided cutting-edge technologies and learning opportunities for library customers the driving force of the library's mission. Ms. Cote was the recipient of numerous awards including the Elizabeth M. Lewis Award from the Virginia Public Library Directors Association (VPLDA) and was named Outstanding Library Director in 2003 by VPLDA.

Criteria for award include:

  • MLS degree holder, or a certified school/media specialist in Virginia.
  • Have made a significant contribution by any of the following:
  • Demonstrating the value of libraries
  • Enhancing the image of librarians and/or libraries
  • Promoting an accessible and positive climate in the library
  • Advancing community relations
  • Initiating a new library service or program

The award consists of a certificate or plaque presented at the Annual Conference and a complimentary ticket to the Scholarship and Awards Banquet.


 Friends of the Library Award

This award is presented to a Friends group in recognition of distinguished service to libraries or a library in Virginia.

The award consists of a plaque presented at the annual conference Scholarship and Awards Banquet, one day’s food and lodging for the honoree or one representative of the honored group or organization.


 George Mason Award

Individuals (librarians or professional associates), libraries, or other organizations distinguished for advocacy of libraries and/or information access are eligible. Institutions, businesses, or academic programs whose activities have contributed to the development, growth, and extension of library and information services in the local community, the state, or the nation are also eligible.

The award consists of a plaque presented at the annual conference Scholarship and Awards Banquet, one day’s food and lodging for the honoree or one representative of the honored group or organization.


Honorary Life Membership

Eligibility for nomination is open to all persons who have worked in an/or supported Virginia libraries and the association and who have made outstanding contributions to Virginia librarianship. Nominees are voted on by the VLA membership in the year in which the individual is nominated.

Election of nominee(s) by the membership bestows on the honorary life member(s) full benefits of membership without dues. A plaque honoring a life member is presented at the annual conference.


Librarian of Color Forum Award  *New in 2021*

This award increases the visibility of librarians of color/library staff of color and their work in Virginia libraries. It promotes an inclusive, positive environment in the libraries for persons of color, and enhances the image of librarians and library professionals of color in the community.

The following persons are eligible to be nominated:

  • Librarians and library staff of color serving in a library in Virginia
  • Exhibits excellence in service to libraries and communities of color
  • Conducted outreach or developed programming that encouraged engagement or removed barriers to library information and services

“Of Color” is defined as those who are American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, (using guidelines from the Spectrum Scholarship at ALA http://www.ala.org/advocacy/spectrum), including those who identify as multi-racial including at least one of the listed designations.

The award consists of a certificate or plaque presented at the Annual Conference and a complimentary ticket to the Scholarship and Awards Banquet as well as a $250 cash honorarium.


 Outstanding Professional Associates Award

The Outstanding Professional Associates Award was launched in 1996 as a means of recognizing excellence among the library Professional Associates in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This award will be presented to a deserving Virginia Professional Associate at the VLAPAF Spring Conference. It is presented annually to an individual who has been a member of VLA for at least one year and who demonstrates excellence in performance in his/her field of expertise. This individual should also be someone who fosters communication among library employees throughout the Commonwealth and advances and strengthens the image of Professional Associates. You may nominate a colleague or yourself.

The entry should include:

  • Name of the nominee
  • Library where the nominee is associated
  • Two-three paragraphs describing why the nominee deserves this award
  • Additionally, the nomination may include a list of activities, programs and organization participation, recognitions or awards, innovative support staff development activities, or other noteworthy achievements in the workplace
  • Name and library of the nominator

Professional Associates Forum Award

The VLA Professional Associates Forum Award was established in 1995 through the generosity of Evelyn Kimball, a retired library paraprofessional who recognizes the value of support staff development. This award is meant to assist someone who is unable to acquire local funding to attend the conference. Awarded annually, it will provide full conference fees to a deserving paraprofessional. You may nominate a colleague or yourself.

The entry should include:

  • Name of the nominee
  • Library where the nominee is associated
  • Two-three paragraphs describing why the nominee deserves this award
  • Name and library of the nominator

Public Library Innovator Award

This award recognizes public librarians or public library project teams who have made an outstanding contribution to advance the mission of a public library in Virginia through an innovative project, program or service during the nomination period.

  • Nominees must be employed by or associated with a public library.
  • Projects, programs, or services should demonstrate creativity, quality, and innovation within the context of a public institution. Innovation is defined as creating something new or introducing new methods with great results.  Innovation will be considered very broadly and is not limited to technology.

The award consists of a certificate or plaque presented at the Annual Conference and a complimentary ticket to the Scholarship and Awards Banquet.


 Trustee Library Award

This award recognizes the distinguished service to libraries or a library in Virginia. The Trustee honored may have served on the local, state, regional, or national level, or at a combination of levels.

The award consists of a plaque presented at the annual conference Scholarship and Awards Banquet, one day’s food and lodging for the honoree or one representative of the honored group or organization.


 Up and Comer Award

This award recognizes a librarian who shows leadership early in his or her career. While new to the profession, he/she expands the role of librarian with forward-thinking efforts that help move libraries into the future.  Winners of this award will be energetic librarians, with less than five years of professional experience, who push the boundaries of originality and creativity. They will help to establish a library culture that sets high expectations, promotes learning, and creates an understanding of the library as an integral part of the community.

  • The Up and Comer Award winner will be a librarian with 5 or fewer years of experience.
  • Only one person may receive the award each year.
  • Self-nominations are acceptable.

Criteria for the award include: MLS degree; Nominees must be employed as a full or part-time librarian in a Virginia library for five (5) years or fewer; Be energetic and innovative and one who pushes the boundaries of originality and creativity.

The award consists of a certificate or plaque presented at the Annual Conference and a complimentary ticket to the Scholarship and Awards Banquet.


 Virginia Library of the Year Award  *New in 2021*

The VLA Awards & Recognition Committee determines whether the award is granted in any given year. The award is conferred upon a Virginia library (public, academic, or special), library system, or library network for distinguished achievement in service. The library board or administering body, staff, and the community or campus served shall all be involved in the work for which recognition is sought.

The award shall be based upon such activities or accomplishments including any of the following:

  • Leadership in implementing user services that can be emulated by other libraries
  • Creativity and/or innovation in programming
  • Development of innovative partnerships through participation in networks and systems, or cooperative programming with other types of libraries or organizations
  • Collections based on sound selection policies
  • Changes or improvements in physical facilities resulting in better services
  • Development of opportunities for professional growth and job satisfaction for all employees.

The award consists of a certificate or plaque presented at the Annual Conference and a complimentary ticket to the Scholarship and Awards Banquet.


 VLAPAF Supporter of Professional Associates Award

The VLAPAF Supporter of the Year Award was established in 1996 as a means of recognizing an individual who has provided significant support to their staff and who has been a champion for library support staff in Virginia libraries. If you know someone who has been an advocate for continuing education programs and pay increases for their library support staff and who has encouraged their library staff to excel in the workplace, you are encouraged to nominate them to receive this award and recognition. You may nominate a supporter of Professional Associates.

The entry should include:

  • Name of the nominee
  • Library where the nominee is associated
  • Two-three paragraphs describing why the nominee deserves this award
  • Name and library of the nominator

For more information, contact:
Lisa R. Varga
VLA Executive Director
[email protected]

Last Updated on Monday, June 28, 2021 09:22 AM