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California library advocate receives WHCLIST Award

Strong libraries, Strong communitiesThis week, the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office announced that Mas’ood Cajee, a library advocate from Stockton, Calif., is the winner of the 2015 White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIST) Award. Given to a non-librarian participant attending National Library Legislative Day, the award covers hotel fees and includes $300 stipend to defray the cost of attending the event.

A longtime supporter of libraries, Cajee works in a community hit hard by the recession. Stockton, which is home to over 300,000 residents, is now served by just four libraries. Dedicated to seeing his library system revitalized to meet the growing needs of the community, Cajee serves on the board of the Library & Literacy Foundation for San Joaquin County. He also serves as Chair for Strong Libraries = Strong Communities, a group working toward a ballot measure that will provide stable support for his community’s county library system.

Cajee’s hard work and dedication has produced several notable successes for his library system. Last fall, input from his group led to a librarian being hired as head of Stockton’s Community Services department, a position responsible for managing the library system. In January, an op-ed he wrote unleashed an outpouring of support that saved a closed library branch building from being sold. In addition, Cajee has contributed in the establishment of a county-wide network of library advocates to help heighten awareness of and build support for Stockton’s library system.

“I tell people that if we support our libraries today, our libraries will be there to support us tomorrow,” Cajee said.

The White House Conference on Library and Information Services—an effective force for library advocacy nationally, statewide and locally—transferred its assets to the ALA Washington Office in 1991 after the last White House conference. These funds allow ALA to participate in fostering a spirit of committed, passionate library support in a new generation of library 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.

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