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Elaine Harger named first recipient of SRRT’s Herb Biblo Outstanding Leadership Award for Social Justice and Equality

CHICAGO — The Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association has named Elaine Harger as the first recipient of the Herb Biblo Outstanding Leadership Award for Social Justice and Equality. 

The purpose of this award is to recognize an individual for outstanding leadership in promoting social justice and/or equality within the library profession. Leadership can be demonstrated by accomplishments through the Social Responsibilities Round Table or other ALA bodies, socially responsible groups within state, provincial, regional, or city library organizations, and/or international library organizations.

Preference will be given to persons who have had the widest impact, including influence on the greater society outside the library environment. To be eligible for this award, individuals must be members of SRRT or other library organizations or groups with similar goals and objectives. The first award will be presented at the 2022 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. One award per year of $2,000 will be initially given out.

Elaine Harger began her library career as a student worker in the photocopy center at Marriott Library, University of Utah.  After jobs as a clerical worker and paraprofessional at the University of Utah, New York University, and Columbia University, she earned her MLS in 1988 from Columbia’s (now defunct) School of Library Services.  Her career as a librarian began at the Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. School of Labor Studies, a branch of Empire State College in New York City.  Next came a brief stay as head librarian at the New Jersey Historical Society, following which she entered into public education as a school librarian.  She opened the library at PS/IS 176, the W. Haywood Burns School.  Leaving New York, she became a librarian at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, Washington; Meadowdale Elementary in Lynnwood Washington; and ended her career at Washington Middle School in Seattle.  She is now retired and living in Spokane Washington.

Harger’s volunteer career as a librarian includes continuous membership in ALA and SRRT for 35 years during which she served on several SRRT task forces and as SRRT coordinator.  She also served as co-chair of the ALA/AFL-CIO Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups; as an elected at-large ALA Council member, and on Council’s Committee on Education and Committee on Organization.  She is a co-founder of the Progressive Librarians Guild, and served on the editorial committee of Progressive Librarian.  Her written works range from an article in Alkaline Advocate, to a column on library unions for Library Journal, to reviews for C&RL.  Her book Which Side Are You On? Seven Social Responsibility Debates in Librarianship, 1990-2015 was published by McFarland & Co. in 2016.  She also contributed to the forthcoming Countering White Supremacy in Libraries: A Toolkit, published by Western States Center.

For more information about the award and the criteria, visit the Herb Biblo Outstanding Leadership Award for Social Justice and Equality webpage:  and inquiries about the Herb Biblo Outstanding Leadership Award for Social Justice & Equality can be sent to SRRT Staff Liaison Monica Chapman at [email protected] or [email protected]

Since 1969, members of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) have worked to make the American Library Association (ALA) more democratic. They have also worked to promote a more progressive agenda. In doing so, SRRT has provided a home within ALA for progressive librarians, library workers, and supporters who agree to promote social responsibility as a core value of librarianship. For more information about SRRT, visit their website at 

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