Learn More About the 2023 Library Foundation Awards!

Since 2000, we have presented awards to authors, writers, artists, and civic leaders – individuals whose unparalleled contributions to art, literature, and our community have connected and inspired us.

Our Awards include:

  • The Carl Sandburg Literary Award honors an acclaimed author whose work has enhanced the public’s awareness of the written word.
  • The 21st Century Award honors a rising storytelling talent with ties to Chicago.
  • The Arts Award celebrates the power and impact of Chicago’s artistic community.
  • The Civic Award recognizes an individual whose leadership has made a significant impact on the Chicago community.

Previous Award Honorees

2022

  • Tony Kushner
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Rick Bayless
    Arts Award
  • Shermann “Dilla” Thomas
    21st Century Award

2021

  • Amy Tan
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Theaster Gates
    Arts Award
  • J. Nicole Brooks
    21st Century Award

2020

  • Isabel Wilkerson
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Donna LaPietra
    Civic Award
  • Nate Marshall
    21st Century Award

2019

  • George R.R. Martin
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Dr. Eve L. Ewing
    21st Century Award

2018

  • Judy Blume
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Erika Sanchez
    21st Century Award

2017

  • Margaret Atwood
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Dave Eggers
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Natalie Y. Moore
    21st Century Award

2016

  • Alice Walker
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Scott Turrow
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Erik Larson
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Amina Gautier
    21st Century Award

2015

  • Stephen Sondheim
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Eric Charles May
    21st Century Award

2014

  • Larry McMurtry
    Carl Sandbug Literary Award
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Mavis Staples
    Arts Award
  • Veronica Roth
    21st Century Award

2013

  • Isabel Allende
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Michael Lewis
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Christine Sneed
    21st Century Award

2012

  • Don LeLillo
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Walter Isaacson
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Nami Mun
    21st Century Award

2011

  • Roger Ebert
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Rebecca Skloot
    21st Century Award

2010

  • Toni Morrison
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Eula Bliss
    21st Century Award

2009

  • Salman Rushdie
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Patrick Somerville
    21st Century Award

2008

  • Tom Wolfe
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Theresa Schwegel
    21st Century Award

2007

  • Nikki Giovanni
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Sara Gruen
    21st Century Award

2006

  • David Mamet
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Blue Balliett
    21st Century Award

2005

  • John Updike
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Tracy Letts
    21st Century Award

2004

  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Audrey Niffenegger
    21st Century Award

2003

  • Robert A. Caro
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Elizabeth Crane
    21st Century Award

2002

  • Joyce Carol Oates
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Richard Cohen
    21st Century Award

2001

  • Kurt Vonnegut
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Jeffrey Renard Allen
    21st Century Award

2000

  • David McCullough
    Carl Sandburg Literary Award
  • Aleksander Hemon
    21st Century Award

Watch our Awards archives

Relive the conversations with Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, George R.R. Martin, Amy Tan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and more!