The main criterion for the prize is deep achievement in the study of humanity. Nominees need not have worked primarily in academic institutions, but they are expected to have developed, in their creative pursuits or careers, unique insights into the forces that have shaped and continue to shape humankind. Candidates should be distinguished by their intellectual achievements, by the fundamental importance of their work and its impact on public affairs and civil society, and by the ability to communicate the significance of their work to broad audiences.
The nominee's body of work should have evidenced growth in maturity and range and have earned unusual distinction within a given area of inquiry. It should exemplify values and insights that have meaning both within and beyond the scholarly community over a sustained period. It should, in large part, be understandable to scholars in a variety of fields, to those involved in public affairs, and to the average layperson. Seniority is not a prerequisite for recognition of such achievement.
The prize is not offered to candidates whose primary work has been in economic sciences, literature, peace, chemistry, physics, or physiology or medicine, the areas covered by the Nobel Prizes.
Past recipients include Leszek Kołakowski of Poland, Paul Ricoeur of France, Jaroslav Pelikan, John Hope Franklin and Peter Brown of the United States, Yu Ying-shih of China and the United States, Romila Thapar of India, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Jürgen Habermas of Germany, and Charles Taylor of Canada.
The Library of Congress invites nominations for the Kluge Prize from knowledgeable individuals in colleges, universities, government agencies, embassies, and research institutions across the globe, as well as from independent scholars and writers and from library curators.
Nominations must be made in writing and include a detailed assessment of a nominee's accomplishments. Explanatory documentation is helpful, and is essential for any nomination received without prior solicitation. Self-nominations are not accepted.
Nominations may be submitted by email. Nominations and supporting material should be sent to:
The confidential evaluation of the submitted nominations takes place in several stages.
First, internal and external nominations are collected and reviewed by a panel of Library of Congress specialists and curators. On the basis of this evaluation—as well as her own—the Librarian of Congress selects approximately 30 nominees for further consideration.
Next, the pool of candidates is sent for review to the members of the Library's Scholars Council, a body of distinguished scholars convened by the Librarian of Congress. After receiving input from Scholars Council members, the Librarian of Congress selects the top five nominees.
A final panel then reviews each finalist intensively and comprehensively. The panel presents the arguments in favor of and against each finalist to the Librarian of Congress, who draws upon all the evaluation and discussion to make the final decision.