Today, the American Library Association (ALA) named Mary Lynn Collins, a library trustee from Frankfort, Ky., the winner of the 2014 White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIST) Award. The award, which is given to a non-librarian participating in National Library Legislative Day, covers hotel fees in addition to a $300 stipend to reduce the cost of attending the event.
During this year’s National Library Legislative Day, to be held May 5–6, 2014, hundreds of librarians and library supporters from across the country will gather in the nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress to discuss key library issues. As a champion for libraries, Collins incorporates her first-hand knowledge of the Kentucky legislature into her advocacy strategies. Before Collins became a founding member and current president of the Friends of Kentucky Libraries, she served for nearly 30 years on the staff of the Kentucky legislature as a legislative analyst.
Collins has used her legislative experience to gain support for Kentucky libraries that are facing harmful lawsuits in the past few years. In the future, she plans to lead her library group to increase advocacy efforts with congressional representatives.
“As a member of the Friends of Kentucky Libraries, I have seen advocacy at the state and local level become more important each year,” said Collins. “We have in the last three sessions of our state legislature seen legislation that was deemed detrimental to libraries and through the advocacy of library professionals, trustees and friends, and we have been able to defeat those efforts.”
The White House Conference on Library and Information Services—an effective force in library advocacy nationally, statewide and locally—turned its assets over to the ALA Washington Office after the last conference was held in 1991 in order to transmit the spirit of committed, passionate library support to a new generation of advocates. Leading up to National Library Legislative Day each year, the ALA seeks nominations for the award. Representatives of WHCLIST and the ALA Washington office choose the recipient.