Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the White House’s “Champions of Change” ceremony, an event where twelve libraries and museums were honored for making lasting differences in their neighborhoods and communities. The event awarded institutions that were providing innovative learning experiences for families and offering services for hard-to-reach populations.
It was truly an honor to hear from so many passionate library leaders who are creating environments where children can become lifelong readers and where new immigrants can feel at home.
Queens, New York
Vice President, Government & Community Affairs, Queens Borough Public Library — Jennifer Manley is part of the leadership team for one of the busiest libraries in the nation, circulating over 13 million items from a 7.5 million collection annually and welcoming over 13 million visitors a year to its 62 library locations. Immigrants make up more than 50 percent of the borough’s population and the library has become a leader in providing services to new immigrants. Thousands of immigrant adults and their families come to the library to learn English, learn about citizenship and become full participants in democratic society. Manley believes in the power of information and education to improve lives, one at a time, neighborhood by neighborhood.
Harriet Henderson Coalter
Director of Richmond Public Library – Harriet Coalter is a driving force pursuing innovative library efforts to serve children and parents and work toward school readiness. In Richmond, the public library system serves as the lead agency for Richmond’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading initiative. This effort has engaged 30 community organizations to improve the educational outcomes for children ages 0-8. Coalter also co-chaired the national Public Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read project, which has become the foundation for public library outreach to parents and caregivers of preschool children, as public libraries engage the child’s “first teacher” in preparing children for learning.
Chief Adult Learning Officer, Hartford Public Library– Born in Paris, a native of Iran and now an American citizen, Homa Naficy joined the Hartford Public Library in 2000 to design and direct The American Place (TAP), program for Hartford’s immigrants and refugees. TAP has become a magnet for new arrivals seeking immigration information, resources for learning English, and preparing for United States citizenship. In 2010, the program was awarded two major grants, a citizenship education grant from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (the only library in the nation to receive such funding), and a National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services designed to promote immigrant civic engagement.
Library Director, Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma — Sandy Tharp-Thee is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. She and Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma chairperson, Janice Rowe-Kurak, were honored with a 2012 Library Institutional Excellence Award from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums. It recognizes an indigenous library that profoundly demonstrates outstanding service to its community. In three short years, the library evolved from an organization with no budget and no viable programs to a well-funded organization that is considered an “essential service.” The library now is widely-recognized for its work in advancing print and digital literacy among young and old, providing resources in employment and health, as well as activities to help preserve the Iowa people’s culture and history, and much more.
Teacher Librarian, Longfellow Elementary School, Howard County Public Schools, Maryland –Matthew Winner believes that school libraries play a vital role in creating lifelong learners and that gaming and game-based learning are highly effective tools in engaging and supporting the academic success of our students. Winner is the co-author of Teaching Math with the Wii, which will be published in October 2013 by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). He is the author of the Busy Librarian blog and was recently named a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker in the category of Tech Leaders.
Fayetteville, New York
Executive Director, Fayetteville Free Library – The Fayetteville Free Library serves as a model for other libraries because of Sue Considine’s leadership and ability to relentlessly innovate. She has recruited and developed a team of dynamic professionals, support staff, and community members who offer cutting-edge library services in a state-of-the-art environment to an engaged community. Considine is a pioneer in the field of new librarianship and has worked to redefine the role of a librarian by creating opportunities for staff to lead at all levels. She believes in the idea of integrating emerging technologies – even if disruptive—into library services and recently launched the library’s digital media Creation Lab and Fab Lab.
Owner/Consultant, Anneal — Jamie Hollier is a project manager, entrepreneur, and consultant who is passionate about technology and using it to create stronger communities. Hollier is the owner of Anneal, a consulting firm, and is a partner at Commerce Kitchen, a web development, design, and marketing company. She serves as the project manager for DigitalLearn.org, an online hub for those who teach and support digital learners. Before that she worked as the project manager for Colorado’s Public Computer Centers, which brought computers and training to 88 locations throughout Colorado and has already seen more than three million users. Hollier is a board member for the Digital Public Library of America and consults for Open Government and Startup communities in Colorado.
Kansas City, Missouri
Teaching and Learning Services Librarian/Diversity Liaison, University of Missouri – Kansas City Libraries — For nearly a quarter of a century, Gloria Tibbs has worked as a librarian. She has been with the Kansas City Libraries since 2001 and also serves as the Library’s Diversity Liaison, a role that enables her to diligently promote the principles of diversity, inclusiveness, and respect throughout the libraries, the campus, the greater Kansas City community, and the profession. In collaboration with colleagues, Tibbs develops programming opportunities to enhance cultural understanding, celebrate diversity, and engage UMKC students, faculty, and external community members in non-traditional means of intellectual discovery.
Emily Sheketoff is the Executive Director of the American Library Association's Washington Office.