Is Your Library the Next Library of the Year?

All libraries are good, some are great. LJ is looking for role-model libraries to vie for the honor of being the 2020 Library Journal/Gale Cengage Learning Library of the Year. The $10,000 prize celebrates the library that most profoundly demonstrates the following:

  1. Service to the community.
  2. Creativity and innovation in developing specific community programs or a dramatic increase in library usage.
  3. Leadership in creating programs that can be emulated by other libraries.

Along with the cash award, the winner is featured in an LJ cover story in June and honored with a gala reception at the American Library Association Annual Conference. Past winners have gained prestige within their community and national media attention, often resulting in improved relations with local politicians and increased budgets.

Submission Requirements:

A library may be nominated by itself or by a community member. Each entry must include:

  1. Nominee name, address, and phone number, plus the name of the contact person and the submitter’s contact information if different from the nominee.
  2. A written explanation that clearly enumerating how the nominated library’s accomplishments fit the award criteria. We encourage the inclusion of images and graphics to help you tell your library’s story, but this document should not exceed the equivalent of 12 pages total. The judges will not be required to read beyond the 12 page limit. Past entries describing programs and their effects on the community were especially helpful to the LJ and outside judges.
  3. Statistical data: include population served; total annual budget; per capita budget; circulation; percent of the budget spent on materials; visits; e-use (in-house and remote if available); number of staff; percentage of staff who are professional librarians; and any other measure you use to demonstrate your library’s value to community, impacts, or outcomes. If you do not have all of these statistics, then submit at least the first six. The judges do not make selections based on numbers, though they are helpful in giving context to the written submission.
  4. Eligibility: Any library in the United States or Canada can apply. Libraries that have previously won the award will not be eligible until five years after winning. (For example: the 2015 winner will not be eligible until the 2021 award year.)

Show the world that your library is the best. Please submit nominations and supporting materials by following this link. Good luck!


If you have any questions regarding the submission process, please contact Meredith Schwartz at [email protected]

Past Winners:


1994 – Brown County Library, Green Bay, WI
1995 – Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, NC
1996 – Broward County Library, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
1997 – Ann Arbor District Library, MI
1998 – Medina County District Library, OH
1999 – The Valley Library, Oregon State University, Corvallis
2000 – Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, GA
2001 – Richland County Public Library, Columbia, SC
2002 – Kalamazoo Public Library, MI
2003 – Las Vegas Clark County Library District, NV
2004 – San Jose Public Library/San Jose State University Library, CA
2005 – Fayetteville Public Library, AR
2006 – Salt Lake City Public Library, UT
2007 – Worthington Libraries, OH
2008 – Laramie County Library System, WY
2009 – Queens Library, NY
2010 – Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH
2011 – King County Library System, WA
2012 – San Diego County Library, CA
2013 – Howard County Library System, MD

2014 – Edmonton Public Library, Alberta, Canada

2015 – Ferguson Municipal Public Library, MO

2016 – Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, KS

2017 – Nashville Public Library, TN

2018 – San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA

2019 – LA County Library, Los Angeles, CA