ALA’s Tracie Hall Receives the US National Book Awards’ Literarian Award

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Tracie Hall, the first Black woman executive director of the American Library Association, receives this year’s lifetime literary award.

Tracie Hall. Image: American Library Association

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Steinberger: ‘In an Age of Misinformation’
In the United States, the annual sequential rollout of honorees and nominees for the 73rd National Book Awards has begun today (September 7), starting as usual with the news of the program’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

In coming days, the National Book Foundation will also release:

  • The name of the 2022 winner of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
  • The National Book Award longlist in young people’s literature
  • The National Book Award longlist in translated literature
  • The National Book Award longlist in poetry
  • The National Book Award longlist in in nonfiction
  • The National Book Award longlist in fiction

Finalists, as this program calls its shortlist works and writers, are to be released on October 4. And the National Book Awards ceremony is set for November 16.

Today, Tracie D. Hall has been named the 18th Literarian Award laureate. Carrying a purse of US$10,000, this honor “is presented to an individual for a lifetime of achievement in expanding the audience for books and reading.”

Hall is the executive director of the American Library Association, a role she has held since 2020. A  librarian, curator, arts and culture administrator, and an advocate for digital literacy skills, she also is credited for pursuing equitable access to information for everyone.

David Steinberger

In a prepared statement for today’s announcement, the National Book Foundation’s board chair David Steinberger is quoted, saying, “Libraries are essential for all readers—they are spaces of learning and community whose importance has only been amplified by the pandemic and the ever-increasing tensions of resource equity

“The foundation is honored to recognize Hall’s extensive contributions to the diversification of the library and information science fields and her commitment to digital literacy in an age of misinformation, which will have a lasting impact on readers and communities everywhere.”

Ruth Dickey

And Ruth Dickey, the foundation’s executive director, says, “Tracie D. Hall is a courageous champion for readers and libraries.

“Her accessibility and resource-driven advocacy is especially important at this moment when books are increasingly under attack nationwide.

“We’re so proud to recognize Hall’s tremendous work supporting the individuals and communities who depend on libraries’ services—in other words, everyone.”

Dickey: ‘Books Are Increasingly Under Attack Nationwide’

Hall, a native of South Central Los Angeles, is the first Black woman to be made executive director of the American Library Association and the 10th person to hold the position.

She’s also a poet, a writer of fiction, playwright, and the recipient of the fellowship provided to select African-American poets by the Cave Canem Foundation (itself a Literarian Award-winner in 2016) and the Jack Straw Fellowship. She’s the founding curator of Rootwork Gallery, an experimental arts space that showcases creative workers in folk, vernacular, Indigenous, and street-art traditions.

Hall, the foundation says in its write-up today, is “deeply committed to social justice, equitable library access, and diversity in the library profession, [and] has written about eradicating information poverty, protecting the right to read for incarcerated individuals, and ending information redlining.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 156th awards-related report published in the 165 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the National Book Awards in the United States is here and more on the huge field of international book awards and prizes is here. More from us on the United States’ market is here

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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