Marjorie Cotton Award

The Marjorie Cotton Award is maintained by ALIA Children's and Youth Services group.

Promoting the role and image of librarians providing library services for young people. Award of $200 and citation recognising an outstanding contribution to library services for young people.


  • Promote the role and image of librarians working with young people.
  • Recognise individual achievement and cooperative networking in providing library services for young people.
  • Encourage young people's librarians and teacher librarians to actively support the profession and the Association.


  • Any ALIA or ASLA member who is employed as a young people's librarian or teacher librarian in Australia.


  • May be made by ALIA members, employers or colleagues.
  • Require a proposer, a seconder and the nominee's consent.
  • The deadline for the next round of applications is to be confirmed.

Selection Criteria

  • An outstanding contribution to developing, implementing or promoting services to young people in libraries.
  • Active participation in co-operative networks, committees or groups furthering library services to young people.
  • Research, publication or presentation of a paper on the subject of young people's librarianship or literature.


  • The Marjorie Cotton Award is presented biennially at the ALIA Conference.


  • $200 award and a citation.
  • When the Orana journal, ALIA's journal of school and children's librarianship ceased publication in 2005 the ALIA board and the Orana committee attributed the residual funds towards this award and the Bess Thomas award.

Written report

  • Reports will be submitted for publication in INCITE. 

Past Recipients 

To view the past recipients please click here


Marjorie Cotton Isherwood, whose pioneering work as a children's librarian was recognised by the creation of the Marjorie Cotton Award, passed away on 2 February 2003. Marjorie was delighted to have this award honouring her, and in years past has personally corresponded with those children's librarians who received the award, presenting each winner with a book from her own library.

Marjorie Cotton was NSW's first professionally qualified children's librarian. She initiated programs that are the basis of services to children in public libraries today:

  • Weekly story sessions
  • Contacts with schools
  • Providing material for children in languages other than English
  • Appointing qualified children's librarians

Marjorie Cotton's influence reached far beyond the Ku-ring-gai, Newcastle, Randwick and Woollahra libraries in which she worked. She was the first president of the LAA Children's Libraries Section in 1953, and her expertise was recognized by overseas organizations such as UNESCO who sought her advice on children's library services.

The Children's and Youth Services Groups of today, strive to continue the work that Marjorie pioneered, we provide continuing professional development opportunities for our members and colleagues and champion the provision of library services for children, we encourage our colleagues to network and celebrate their achievements.

Our aims in awarding the Marjorie Cotton Award at each ALIA conference are to:

  • Promote the role and image of librarians providing library services for young people.
  • Recognise individual achievement and co-operative networking in providing services for young people in public libraries and school libraries.
  • Encourage children's and youth services librarians and teacher librarians to actively support the profession and the Association.


  • M. Cotton, 'A Good-kids-book-knower: autobiographical notes on the career of Marjorie Cotton in Children's Libraries of NSW', April 1989. This book was printed for private circulation and consists of her experiences at Ku-ring-gai, Randwick and Woollahra Libraries.
  • M. Cotton, 'Imaginative literature and the development of the individual' in Children's Libraries Newsletter Vol.7 No. 1 Feb 1971 p.28
  • M. Cotton, 'Margaret Cotton: the story of an Australian Children's Librarian' Orana, Aug 1988 p.129
  • H. M. Saxby, 'A history of Australian Children's Literature 1941-1970' (with supplementary chapters by Marjorie Cotton), Sydney 1971.