Michigan librarian named “Batting for literacy @ your library” winner

Contact: Megan McFarlane
Campaign Coordinator
mmcfarlane@ala.org
For Immediate Release
January 29, 2008

Michigan librarian named  “Batting for literacy @ your library” winner

Al Smitley of the Northville District Library in Michigan has been named the winner of the “Batting for literacy @ your library” program for his use of baseball to promote literacy and library services. 

Smitley will receive a trip for two to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., for a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum and archives.  He will also be recognized on field in front of an audience of 10,000 spectators at the 2008 Hall of Fame Game, an exhibition game between two Major League teams held each year at the Hall of Fame’s Doubleday Park, on June 16.  This year, the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres will compete in the game. 

For the past 16 years, Smitley has coordinated a fantasy baseball league at the library in which more than 1,600 library patrons have participated to date. Smitley also designs a t-shirt for the program every year that is presented to the winners in each division.  He also has held several baseball-related programs at the library, including two featuring author and baseball historian Peter Morris.  In 2003, Smitley helped found the Northville Eclipse, a “base ball” team that follows 19th century rules. As a player, he has become well known among many younger library users by his nickname, “Toes,” since he plays the game barefoot.

"Al Smitley has done an exemplary job sharing his passion for baseball and the library with his community,” said Judith Gibbons, chair of the ALA’s Public Awareness Committee, who jointly judged the entries with Hall of Fame staff.  “From playing vintage baseball to monitoring a fantasy baseball league at the library, Al is the ‘go-to’ librarian for historic and current information about the all-American game.” 

“Batting for literacy @ your library” asked librarians to send in a description of how they used baseball to enhance literacy or library service.  They were also asked to send in examples of their work, including publicity materials, media clips from baseball-related programming, photos of events or displays, testimonials from library users or library staff and the number of people reached by the efforts. 

“Al Smitley has shown a deep passion for baseball, and his ability to weave it into library services has been enriching for his community and helps to showcase baseball’s place in American culture,” said Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame vice president of communications and education.

“Batting for literacy @ your library” was promoted alongside the 2007 “Step Up to the Plate @ your library” literacy program, which was developed by ALA and the Hall of Fame.  Both programs are part of The Campaign for America’s Libraries, ALA’s national public awareness campaign to remind the public about the value of libraries and librarians.