CHICAGO - The American Library Association is pleased to announce the 2011 Peggy Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children has been awarded to Sol M. Hirsch, director of the Alachua County Library District in Gainesville, Fla. The Sullivan Award is presented annually to an individual in a library administrator role who has shown exceptional understanding and support of public library service to children.
Hirsch received the award for his leadership in cultivating community relationships and encouraging innovative methods of delivering services to children and families in Alachua County.
In nominating Hirsch, Marjorie J. Alexander, chair of the Alachua County Library District Foundation, said, “The minute I read about this award I knew that Sol would be a natural to be selected, it is exactly what he has done here in Alachua County."
Hirsch was integral in the creation of The Library Partnership in 2009; This one-stop center offering social services and a full-service library under one roof was the result of collaborations with the Florida Department of Children and Families and Partnership for Strong Families and was made possible through the funding support of Casey Family Programs and State of Florida Library Services and Technology Grant. In September 2010 The Library Partnership was recognized as a Bright Idea by Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Under Hirsch’s administration, the Library District created Snuggle-Up Centers in each of its 11 locations to support the efforts of the Early Learning Coalition, United Way of North Central Florida’s Success by 6 campaigns and many other organizations focusing on early childhood education. The Snuggle-Up Centers offer a distinct space for preschool children and their caregivers to read and learn together while providing parenting materials within arms reach.
Hirsch’s support of the Library District’s High School Intern Program has been instrumental as a means to attract young people to the library profession. This paid program attracts approximately 40 students per year and more than 200 have participated to date. In April of 2010 the program was recognized at the 14th Annual Florida Governor's Community Investment Awards for providing academic and workforce skills to at-risk youth.
In addition, Hirsch is a founding member of the Alachua County Children’s Alliance; an organization of community leaders created to provide a coordinated approach to the needs of children in Alachua County. The efforts of those community leaders were recognized in 2010 as America’s Promise Alliance (the Alliance), the nation’s largest partnership organization dedicated to youth and children, announced Alachua County had been named a winner of the Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People .
Finally, Hirsch understands the importance of library services to teenagers. He has ensured the library district provides funding for specialized teen staff, young adult programming and renovations of spaces that welcome teens with urban style furnishings, teen designated computers, gaming and, most of all, a place to call their own.
“It is obvious that Sol Hirsch has made a sincere and dedicated effort to help the children of Alachua County and emphasized services to children in his priorities for the library. The committee is pleased to select him for the Peggy Sullivan Award for Administrative Support of Library Children’s Services,” said Nancy Bolt, 2011 jury chair.
Members of the 2011 Sullivan Award Committee are: Chair, Nancy M. Bolt, Nancy Bolt & Associates, Golden Colo.; Alison B. Landers, consultant, Alison B. Landers; Loren McCrory, Yuba County Library, Marysville, Calif.; Neel Parikh, Pierce County Library system, Tacoma, Wash.; Hellena Stokes, Houston Public Library.
The deadline for submission of applications for the 2012 Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children is Dec. 1, 2011. Guidelines and application forms are available on the ALA website.