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Ruth Brown Memorial Award
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Ruth Brown

Each year the Oklahoma Library Association’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Intellectual Freedom Roundtable takes applications for the Ruth Brown Memorial Award.  The award is presented to recognize and  support social issue oriented programs implemented by or with libraries.

The award commemorates the courageous spirit of Ruth Brown (1891-1975), a former Bartlesville librarian and OLA president who fought for racial integration in public libraries but was fired for her efforts in 1950.

Is your program eligible for the award?

  • Yes, if you are any type of library that provides a program addressing social issues or underserved populations.
  • Yes, if you are an individual or an organization that works with a library of any type on a program that addresses social issues or underserved populations.

Need an example?  Some of the past recipients of the award include:

  • Kane Elementary School Reading Mentors Program, Bartlesville.   Mentors working third-graders have reached more than 300 students.  The school’s average third-grade standardized test scores for reading rose from the 900s to over 1300.

  • Mabel C. Fry Public Library, Yukon. “Books behind Bars” brings books – and a love of reading – to children living in the juvenile detention system.

  • University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Library.  The “Reach Out and Read” program makes books and literacy an essential part of well-child health check-ups for children ages 0 to 6.

  • Leland Wolf School and the Norman Police Department.   Police officers in the “Police Read to Educate and Improve Social Skills” (PRESS) program mentor at the school by reading to and with an at-risk population, fostering a love of reading.

  • Learn & Serve Organization at the Bokoshe Public School, Mrs. Ava Webster Community Library.  This group of 5th and 6th graders started a grassroots effort to open and operate a library in their rural hometown of Bokoshe, Okla.

Recipients of the award are recognized with a plaque and a $500.00 award at the OLA Annual Conference.

Have questions?  Not sure if your program is eligible?  Please contact Jessica Givens at

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