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Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award
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About the award | Current award recipient | Past award recipients

Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award

CLA's Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award honors Californian people, groups, and organizations that have made significant contributions to intellectual freedom. Awardees are selected based on recent or important lifetime contributions to intellectual freedom.

The Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award honors the memory of California librarian Zoia Horn (1918-2014), who in 1972 chose to serve time in jail rather than betray confidential information. Ms. Horn's experience sets an example of integrity over personal comfort, and has been a model discussed in library literature and shared with generations of library students everywhere. A key goal of the Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award is to celebrate and honor other selfless examples of commitment to intellectual freedom that help preserve free speech in an open society.

A maximum of one award is given each year. The Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award recipient is honored at the annual CLA conference. The award is coordinated by CLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee.

Submit a nomination for the Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award.


2019 Award Recipient

Michelle Tea, Creator, Drag Queen Story Hour


Michelle Tea is the creator of Drag Queen Story Hour, an innovative, groundbreaking program which invites Drag Queens to read progressive kid's literature to children at storytimes across the globe. She is the founder of other literary entities, including the online parenting 'zine Mutha Magazine; the international feminist performance tour Sister Spit; the non-profit RADAR Productions, and publishing imprints at both City Lights and The Feminist Press.

A prolific author, her 2000 memoir Valencia is a cult classic and has been made into a feature length film with each chapter shot by a different director. Her recent essay collection, Against Memoir, was given the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. She is currently at work on a collection of astrology-themed kids books for Dottir Press, and awaiting the publication of her Drag Queen Story Hour-themed children's book, Tabitha abd Magoo Dress Up Too, on The Feminist Press' fledgling Drag Queen Story Hour Books imprint.

(Photo credit: Amos Mac)


Award Information 

Nomination period
The 2020-2021 awards application period is open until December 7, 2020.


  • Persons nominated for this award are not required to be CLA members.
  • Nominators are not required to be CLA members. However, if a nomination is made by a non-member, the nomination must be endorsed by a CLA member. If you need assistance in finding a CLA member to endorse your nomination, please contact the CLA office no later than two weeks prior to the deadline.

How to nominate
Nominators should submit:

  • A statement confirming the nominee's qualifications for the award, plus supporting evidence. The statement may include, for example, information about policies and procedures relating to intellectual freedom that the nominee has written, approved, and/or implemented; a description of programming activities which encourage and/or support intellectual freedom; documented reports of the role the nominee has played in promoting intellectual freedom; or any other relevant information that demonstrates the nominee's role in actively promoting intellectual freedom. (Not to exceed 1,000 words.)
  • At least two letters of support and/or items of supporting documentation such as newspaper, newsletter, or journal articles.

Please note: when submitting supplementary files by email, please label your files as follows: Zoia_the nominee's last name_document (e.g.: Zoia_smith_newspaper article; Zoia_smith_newsletter).

Nominations should be submitted using the online nomination form below. Supplementary files may be emailed to Holly Macriss.

Further information

  • CLA's Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award is coordinated by CLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee.
  • The committee reserves the right not to give an award if a qualified candidate is not found.
  • Award recipients will be asked to submit a photograph to be used in award publicity.
  • Nominations and all supplementary materials must be received by 5:00pm on the submission deadline. Postmarks will not be accepted.
  • If you have questions, please contact committee chair Melanie Lightbody.

2019 Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award Committee

  • Susan Broman, Los Angeles Public Library
  • Melanie Lightbody, Butte County Library (Chair)
  • Julie Oborny, San Jose Public Library
  • Destiny Rivera, Copley Library, University of San Diego
  • Lauren Talbott, LA County Library

Application period will close on December 7, 2020


Please include information about the person you are nominating below.