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Professor emerita wins lifetime achievement award

SAN DIEGO -- Henrietta Mays Smith, professor emerita at the University of South Florida School Information, is the winner of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Practitioner Award for Lifetime Achievement. The announcement was made Monday by the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting.

“Dr. Smith’s life’s work has influenced generations of library professionals and readers, and embodies the essence of this lifetime achievement award,” said Barbara Jones Clark, award committee chair.

Smith began her career as a children’s librarian and storyteller in the New York public library system in 1948. After receiving her Ph.D., Smith worked at Florida Atlantic University for 10 years before becoming the first African American faculty member at the USF School of Information. Retiring in 1993, she remains on the faculty as professor emerita.

Smith has served in numerous capacities within the ALA and has served on the Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, Wilder and Pura Belpré award selection committees. As part of the Coretta Scott King Task Force since its inception, Smith has edited four volumes about the history of the award.

The Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement is named in memory of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. The award is presented annually and is presented in odd years (i.e. 2011, 2013, 2015…), to a practitioner for substantial contributions through active engagement with youth using award winning African American literature for children and/or young adults, via implementation of reading and reading related activities/programs.

In even years (i.e. 2012, 2014, 2016…), the award honors an African American author, illustrator or author/illustrator for a body of his or her published books for children and/or young adults who has made a significant and lasting literary contribution. The recipient may be a public librarian, academic librarian, school librarian (public or private), an educator (pre K-12 or any level therein, or higher education) or youth literature advocate whose vocation, work, volunteer service or ongoing promotion of books with and/or on behalf of youth is significant and sustained.

Virginia Hamilton was an award-winning author of children’s books. She wrote more than 35 books throughout her career, including “M. C. Higgins, the Great,” for which she won the 1975 Newbery Medal. During her lifetime, Hamilton received numerous awards including the Coretta Scott King Book Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

The ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world with about 63,000 members. Its mission is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

For more information on the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit


Filed under:Arts and Sciences School of Information School of Social Sciences   
Author: American Library Association