We were blown away this year by the sheer number of applications we received for this year’s nominations for the WHCLIST Award, an honor that recognizes a non-librarian participant attending the 2016 National Library Legislative Day. The award covers hotel fees in addition to a $300 stipend to reduce the cost of attending the event. The White House Conferences on Library and Information Services (WHCLIST) has been an effective force in library advocacy nationally, statewide and locally since the group was established in 1979 and 1991.
We were also pleased by the quality of the applications we received—applicants from all types of professions and all corners of the country applied for the scholarship opportunity, and it was difficult to select a final award recipient. We would like to recognize a few applicants who were not selected for the award, but work diligently to make meaningful contributions to their local libraries and library advocacy groups.
- Betsy Davis is a library volunteer at the Shepard Elementary in Plano, Texas, who has served in that position for the past two years. Davis is particularly interested in supporting effective school library programs, and wants to increase federal support for science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math (STREAM) programs in schools. She would like to continue to work with school and library leaders to fill her library with new books and updated technology that will increase a student’s chance of success in a 21st century career.
- Jessica Kahn is a former reading professor and former elementary school teacher from Meadowbrook, Penn. Since 2009, Kahn has personally donated new and gently used children’s books from private schools, public libraries and individuals to in-need schools in Philadelphia, a city that has a limited number of school librarians. At one school, Kahn assisted in organizing more than 9,200 books, and at another school Kahn supported efforts to catalog a 7,000-volume library. She is currently cataloging and organizing library books at the Julia DeBurgos Public Elementary School in Philadelphia.
- Pat Laas is a member of the Iowa Commission of Libraries, and has been a Bettendorf Library Trustee for the Bettendorf Public Library Information Center for the past 21 years. In her role as a Governor-appointed member of the Iowa Commission of Libraries, Laas serves as a legislative liaison for the group. Laas has worked tirelessly to advocate for Iowa libraries, and has met with legislators in the state to speak about the importance of libraries and the need to support local libraries.
- Esney M. Sharpe is a member of New Jersey Library Trustee Association and former president of the Orange Public Library Board of Trustees, located in Orange, N.J. Additionally, Sharpe works as the president and chief executive officer at the Bessie Mae Women’s Health Center in East Orange, N.J. Sharpe developed the necessary strategic planning initiatives with the Board of Trustees and library director to reopen the Orange Public Library in January 2014. Thanks to her efforts, the reopening of the Orange Public Library was recognized by the New Jersey State Library and New Jersey State Library Trustee Association.
Thank you all for applying for the award! We look forward to congratulating this year’s WHCLIST Award winner next month at this year’s National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C.