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Awards

The Minnesota Library Association, as a part of its Annual Conference, recognizes the contributions of Association members and others who have worked to improve library services throughout the state. Nominees are solicited in advance and are reviewed annually by an Awards Committee chaired by the past president of the Association. An additional annual award is presented by the current president of the Association.

Other awards may be made by divisions or other subunits of the Association, which are responsible for the nomination and selection processes. These awards are typically made at the Annual Conference and coordinated in advance with the Awards Committee and the MLA office.

2016 Call for Award Nominations

Do you know anyone who’s gone above and beyond to impact libraries in the last year?

Help MLA recognize contributions to improved library services and intellectual freedom by nominating a person or group for one of the following awards:

  • William G. Asp Distinguished Career Award
  • MLA Above & Beyond Award
  • Lars Steltzner Intellectual Freedom Award

It’s easy with the convenient online nomination form!

The deadline for nominations is August 15, 2016. Nominate quickly and often!

Make a nomination »

Read criteria and eligibility »

See past recipients »

2015 Award Winners

Congratulations to the following:

  • William G. Asp Distinguished Career Award 
    Ken Behringer

  • MLA Above & Beyond Award
    Barbara Bissen
    Jolene Bradley
    Christine Schafer

  • President's Award
    ​Sara Ring

Special thanks to:

Thank you to the 2015 MLA Awards Committee: Jayne Blodgett, Abike Eyo, Krista Jacobson, Heidi Schutt, and Kristen Mastel. 

Award Descriptions and Criteria


Awards of the Minnesota Library Association

  • William G. Asp Distinguished Career Award
    Nominated by current MLA members and selected by the MLA Awards Committee
    Presented in recognition of distinguished service to the profession and for active and innovative leadership in the development of libraries and the improvement of library services. Candidates must have demonstrated support of the Minnesota Library Association over their career. Recipients will receive a certificate presented at the Annual Conference and $300.
  • Minnesota Library Association Above & Beyond Award
    Nominated by current MLA members and selected by the MLA Awards Committee
    The Minnesota Library Association Above & Beyond Award is given in recognition of a recent group or individual contribution significant to the Minnesota library community. The award can be given to up to three recipients per year. Recipients receive a certificate, recognition at the Annual Conference, and $100. Individuals and groups receive the same level of recognition. Recipients do not have to be members of MLA.
    Eligible candidates:
    • Academic, public, school, and special libraries
    • Any level of library staff, work team, or department
    • Friends, trustees, foundations, and other library supporters
    • Legislators
    Criteria: Projects, programs, or services that demonstrate innovation and/or outstanding dedication and have local or statewide impact
  • President’s Award
    Selected by the president of MLA
    This award recognizes significant and major contributions of members to the work of the Minnesota Library Association. Recipients must be members of MLA as defined in MLA policies and have made the contribution within the current fiscal year or the previous year. The winner receives a free MLA membership for the next year. The President’s Award was established in 1981.

Awards of the Minnesota Library Association Division and Subunits

  • Lars Steltzner Intellectual Freedom Award
    Nominated by any citizen of Minnesota and selected by the Intellectual Freedom Committee
    The Lars Steltzner Intellectual Freedom Award is given in recognition of an educator who has contributed to preserving students’ rights to intellectual freedom and opposing censorship in a school setting. The award was established in 2008 and is named in honor of Lars Steltzner, an elementary school teacher, media specialist, director of technology, active member of the Minnesota Coalition for Intellectual Freedom, and strong supporter of students’ intellectual freedom rights.
    Eligible candidates: teachers, librarians, educators, school administrators
    Criteria: Nominees will have championed students’ intellectual freedom (the freedom to read, write, think and speak) through actions and/or support for students’ rights.
  • Minnesota Academic Innovators Award
    This award recognizes academic librarians or academic project teams who have made an outstanding recent contribution to advance the mission of an academic library in Minnesota through an innovative project, program, or service. (Innovation will be considered very broadly.) The award is sponsored by the MLA Academic & Research Libraries Division (ARLD). The recipient of the Innovators Award is recognized and presented with a $300 award at ARLD Day.
    Criteria: Projects/programs/services should demonstrate recognized creativity and quality within the context of an academic institution.
    Eligibility: Nominees must be employed by or associated with an academic or research library and/or organization that furthers the mission of academic libraries.
    Nomination and selection process: Self nominations are accepted. The ARLD Awards committee will receive and evaluate nominations from the ARLD membership. Nominations must include a nomination form and a statement (not to exceed 500 words) highlighting the nominee’s innovation.
    Notification: The award recipient will be notified prior to the ARLD Day and invited to give a brief presentation on his or her project/program/service at ARLD Day. Announcements will also be sent to the ALA Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Chapter Topics Newsletter and will be posted on the MLA website and through other internal and external communication.

Awards from Other Organizations

Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF) annually presents an award for outstanding work by a Friends of the Library organization. In appreciation for the work of Friends of the Library throughout the state, MLA announces this award in conjunction with its Annual Conference. For more information, please visit www.mnlibraryfriends.org.

Discontinued Awards


  • Certificate of Merit
  • Distinguished Acheivement Category I
  • Distinguished Acheivement Category II
  • Librarian of the Year
  • Minnesota Librarian of the Year
  • SSPiN Advocate Award
  • Trustee of the Year
  • Una Lamb Paraprofessional of the Year Award

Media Releases


Past Award Recipients


Download a listing of past award recipients »

Awards Committee


Visit the Awards Committee page for a current roster of committee members.

Visit the MLA Annual Conference Homepage.

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