Log in

  2024 Roger Trask Award  

   John Y. Cole   


The Society is pleased to honor Dr. John Y. Cole as the 2024 Trask Awardee, in recognition of his innumerable contributions to federal history over the course of his fifty-five-year career at the Library of Congress.

A librarian and a historian, Dr. Cole served for four decades as the founding director of the Center for the Book, where his commitment to books and reading shaped major Library initiatives, including the National Book Festival and the Library of Congress Literacy Awards. In 2016 he was appointed as the Library’s first official historian, having already been recognized internationally as the “foremost expert on the history of the Library of Congress.”*

Dr. Cole’s interest in Library history emerged from his graduate studies, and over the course of his career he wrote or edited more than a dozen books and multiple articles about the Library of Congress, focusing on the institution’s history, functions, and programs, along with its art and architecture.

With the Trask Award, the Society honors Dr. John Cole’s demonstrated commitment to federal history and his service to the federal history community.

*The Library of Congress and the Center for the Book: Historical Essays Honoring John Y. Cole. Edited by Mary Niles Maack of the University of California at Los Angeles, this 2011 volume features nine essays marking Cole’s dual achievements as a scholar and founding director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.


As a librarian and historian, during his fifty-five-year career John Y. Cole sought to increase public and scholarly understanding of the key role that the Library of Congress plays in American life and culture. As the founding director of the Center for the Book­—a position he held for more than four decades—Cole launched several successful national programs to promote public interest in books, reading, literacy, and libraries. These projects have been amplified through a national affiliates program that includes all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and five US territories. 

Cole was instrumental in the creation of the first National Book Festival, paving the way for its immense success over the ensuing quarter century. He significantly expanded programs for young readers with the launch of the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature program in 2008 and the opening of the Library of Congress Young Readers Center the following year.

A tireless ambassador for reading and literacy, Cole organized and launched the Library of Congress Literacy Awards program in 2013. Since its founding, the program has distributed more than three million dollars to 150 organization in 39 countries.

Before his appointment as the Library's first official historian in 2016, through his extensive writings and publications he became a well-known catalyst for understanding and promoting the history of the institution. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books and multiple articles about the Library, most recently America's Greatest Library: An Illustrated History of the Library of Congress (2017).  His many awards include the American Library Association's Lippincott Award for distinguished service and the first Champion for Literacy Award from the Barbara Bush Foundation.


Society for History in the Federal Government
PO BOX 14139
Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software