WLA Merit Awards

With #WLA2023 approaching, the WLA Merit Awards are back again! We look forward to hearing about accomplishments in the past year by library professionals from around the state!

The WLA Merit Awards offer the opportunity to recognize and highlight the outstanding work that has been ongoing in Washington libraries. To nominate an outstanding individual or group for an award, please complete the WLA 2023 Merit Award Nomination Form by Wednesday, Feb. 8.

What library achievement did you see in your community or workplace that you’d like to see celebrated? Examples can include, but aren’t limited to, outstanding service in the areas of:

  • Programming (virtual, educational, community building)
  • Outreach to users
  • Services
  • Access to technology
  • Access to collections
  • Serving the needs of people who were vulnerable, underserved
  • Providing innovative ways to deliver services, materials

Library workers at all levels and in all types of libraries are eligible! Nominees do not need to be WLA members (with the exception of the Emeritus Award and the WALE Award). Additionally, nominators do not have to be WLA members. Award winners will receive a complimentary year of WLA membership!

Winners will be notified by Feb. 27, announced in WLA Wednesday on March 1, and celebrated on April 1 at the WLA 2023 Conference in Wenatchee.

If you have questions or wish to discuss eligibility requirements, please contact the WLA Office at [email protected] or (206) 823-1138.

2023 Merit Awards Timeline

Jan. 4, 2023: Call for nominations
Feb. 8, 2023: Nominations due
Feb. 27, 2023: Award winners notified
March 1, 2023: Winners announced in WLA Wednesday
April 1, 2023: Winners recognized at WLA 2023 Conference


Lifetime Membership Awards

  • Emeritus Membership(s):  Recognizes an outstanding WLA member who has retired from library service prior to the annual conference, acknowledging consistent and outstanding service in WLA and for their years of service promoting and providing excellence in libraries
  • Honorary Membership(s):  Recognizes an individual who has supported libraries who is not a library staff member by profession. An individual who demonstrated consistent and prolonged support of library service in Washington, and/or promoted legislative action, and/or participated in statewide committee work and other library activities.

Merit Awards

  • Outstanding Service Award: Recognizes outstanding contributions by an individual or group involved in improvement to library services, advances in the profession, advocacy for libraries, service to colleagues, or other outstanding work on behalf of libraries.
  • Volunteer Leadership Award: Recognizes individual or group achievement in support of library service, contributed by one or more members of a Trustees, Friends, Foundation, or other volunteer group.
  • Candace Morgan Intellectual Freedom AwardHonoring the lifetime contributions of Candace Morgan in support of Intellectual Freedom and the Library Bill of Rights, this award goes to an individual, or group for their efforts to defend, champion, support and/or educate others about Intellectual Freedom in Washington State.
  • WLA President’s Award: To be given at the discretion of the current or acting President to reward.

Division and Section Awards

School Library Division

  • Elementary Teacher-Librarian of the Year: Recognizes a Teacher-Librarian currently practicing in an elementary school library for outstanding service.
  • Secondary Teacher-Librarian of the Year: Recognizes a Teacher-Librarian currently practicing in a secondary school library for outstanding service.
  • School Library Paraprofessional of the Year: Recognizes an paraprofessional currently practicing in a K-12 school library for outstanding service.
  • Excellence in School Leadership Award: Recognizes an administrator, superintendent or school board member(s) who have demonstrated outstanding school library service and/or positive action on behalf of school libraries.
  • School Library Volunteer of the Year: Recognizes individual or group achievement in support of school library service, contributed by one or more members of a Trustees, Friends, Foundation, or other volunteer group.


  • CAYAS Visionary Service AwardRecognizes an individual who, through practice and example, provides inspiration and leadership for others who serve children and young adults in libraries. May work in a public, school or special library. May acknowledge cumulated efforts over several years in the field of library service to youth, or may be a singular and exceptional effort that sets new standards for practice. This award will bring attention to the remarkable and tireless efforts of all individuals who work with young people in libraries.


  • WALE Outstanding Employee Award: Recognizes a member of WALE who has made significant contributions to or accomplishments in the library field. May recognize an innovative project or activity for a specific library in Washington or a support staff organization. Project and activities should directly involve support staff working in libraries or information centers and will have had an impact on the status and work of support staff.  Individual has been active in WALE serving on a committee or in another leadership capacity.
The American Library Association (ALA) offers more awards, grants, and scholarships.