2014 ALSC Penguin Young Readers Group Award Winners

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has awarded the 2014 Penguin Young Readers Group Award to JoAnna Schofield, Akron-Summit County Public Library, Akron, Ohio; Rikki Unterbrink, Amos Memorial Library, Sidney, Ohio; Amanda Yother, Putnam County Library, Cookeville, Tenn.; and Emily Dumas, Commerce Township (Mich.) Community Library, Commerce Township. 

The $600 stipend, made possible by an annual gift from Penguin Young Readers Group, enables up to four children’s librarians to attend their first American Library Association’s Annual Conference.  Applicants must demonstrate an involvement in ALSC as well as other professional and educational associations.  New programming or innovations initiated by the applicants in elementary, middle schools or public libraries is required.

A former science educator, JoAnna Schofield brings her expertise to the public library with Spy Academy, one segment of the After-School Club STEM activities.  Using her extensive technology skills, she has created semi-monthly technology programming for school-aged children focusing on a variety of topics such as basic computer programming, eReaders, digital photography and digital storytelling.  She is a member of the 2015 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award committee, Ohio Library Council membership committee and ALSC’s Mentoring Program which involves collaborating on a series of projects serving children with autism and their families.

Serving patrons from Wee Ones to Teens, fundraising using Pinterest and integrating French into Preschool story time are a few of the creative programs initiated by Rikki Unterbrink. Popular activities such as Steampunk Awareness Day, supported by a YALSA Teen Tech Week mini grant, followed by Zombie Awareness Day and a Family-Feud Zombie game have been well-received. Unterbrink cites initiating a Teen Advisory Group (TAG) as her most important innovation as she received valuable input on programming while instilling leadership skills as the teens went on to plan and conduct programming on their own. 

Amanda Yother established a Junior Friends of the Library group that gives a voice to school-aged kids who did not fit with the story time or teen crowd. Yother cites creating and improving community partnerships and grant writing as her most important work.  She has implemented a program to serve school children lunch at the library during the Summer Reading Program, received an AWE Early Literacy Computer Station and is a recipient of the 2013 Dollar General Literacy Foundation Summer Reading Grant. 

As a member of ALA, ALSC, MLA and YALSA, Emily Dumas has served on the Thumbs Up! Awards to select notable teen books and presently serves as secretary for The Library Network’s Youth Committee.  Assigned to story times for babies and toddlers was a new challenge for Dumas as she had little experience with the youngest patrons.  Through research and trial and error, Emily structured the various programming for non-walkers, active toddlers, older toddlers and preschoolers.  The new grouping now provides appropriate developmental activities for each level and a better experience for all.

“The committee is thrilled with the creativeness of programming, amount of professional involvement, and leadership skills passed onto to children,” said Nancy Baumann, grant administration chair.  “Attending the annual conference will be of great benefit for each recipient.”

ALSC, a division of the ALA, is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children.  With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries.  To learn more about ALSC, visit ALSC’s website at www.ala.org/alsc.

Members of the 2014 ALSC Grant Administration Committee include:  Nancy Baumann, chair, University of Missouri School of Information Science & Learning Technologies; Sondra Sue Eklund, Fairfax County (Va.) Public Library; Jonathan Hunt, San Diego (Calif.) County Office of Education; Susan Poulter, Main Library Nashville (Tenn.) Public Library; Elizabeth Stalford, Bellevue (Wash.) Public Library; Julie Danielson, Deanna Mae Romriell, Salt Lake City (Utah) Public Library; Patty Saidenberg, New York, N.Y.; Destinee Sutton, Burien (Wash.) Library.