Libraries Defying the Odds


Library Journal and Gale are pleased to announce the inaugural Libraries Defying the Odds award, created to help address the needs of public libraries in a continuously changing landscape.

As libraries confront obstacles that range from natural disasters to inadequate infrastructure to intellectual freedom challenges, many have used creative problem solving, activated community support, forged strong partnerships, and otherwise found new ways to overcome these barriers and meet the needs of the people they serve. The 2024 Libraries Defying the Odds award will provide $10,000 to a U.S. public library that is stepping up for its community and staff in the face of adversity—and to celebrate library workers providing services, programming, and collections for those who need them most. The award will be based on need and the nature of the work done.

One winning library will receive $10,000 in grant money from Library Journal and Gale, and will be profiled in the July issue of Library Journal and online. Honorable mentions may also be named and briefly profiled in the same issue.


Application Requirements

Library staff may self-nominate, or the library can be nominated by others. If nominated by others, LJ will reach out to library leadership and staff to answer the application questions.

Libraries will be asked to provide a brief description of their library and the community they serve, including population size, per capita funding, local demographics, and then answer each of the criteria below individually:

  1. What was the problem you were trying to solve? How did you discover the need to address it?
  2. What did you do, and why was that approach chosen?
  3. How was it accomplished? Please include your methods for getting feedback, developing partnerships, and any other engagements with the community that were helping, as well as how the process was resourced.
  4. What barriers needed to be overcome? How did you assess the solution’s success? What impact did it have on your community? On staff?
  5. How will it be sustainable? What changes or scaling will need to be made going forward? How can this be replicable by others experiencing similar challenges, and how can your library help?
  6. How do you propose to use the award money to sustain and/or improve these efforts? This can be specific, addressing the problem-solving initiative in particular, or more broad, such as hiring staff, capital or infrastructure improvements, or developing programming or services.

Please provide contact information for the following references:

  • A patron helped by the initiative
  • A community partner
  • The union president or, if not unionized, a frontline staff member



Please submit nominations via the form found here.

If you have any questions regarding the submission process, please contact Lisa Peet at

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