Diane Walden recognized with ASCLA leadership award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 03/15/2011

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CHICAGO — The 2011 ASCLA Leadership & Professional Achievement Award winner is Diane Walden, correctional libraries senior consultant for the Colorado State Library and a longtime member of the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), the Librarians Serving Special Populations Section (LSSPS) and the Library Services to Prisoners Forum (LSPF).

The ASCLA Leadership and Professional Achievement Award is presented to Diane Walden for her exemplary leadership and achievements at the Colorado State Library and at the Florida Department of Corrections in delivering high quality consulting and statewide library services for offenders. Her passionate leadership has positively impacted the offenders who use correctional libraries and those who work in them. ASCLA salutes Diane’s leadership in the creation of the Prisoners Right to Read: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, a clear example of both professional leadership and pioneering activity. Prior to the adoption of the Prisoners Right to Read, there was no ALA policy statement that addressed prisoner rights on a national level. Her tireless efforts with the Right to Read statement are but one of many examples of leadership, initiative and professional achievement demonstrated by Diane in her statewide and national work.

Walden is the Colorado State Library’s coordinator for the highly successful “Read to the Children” program in the Colorado Department of Corrections, which allows parents and other close relatives to make a recording of themselves reading a book, then send the recording and book to the child.  The program increases the literacy skills of both the offenders and their children, strengthens the parent-child relationship and creates a home environment supportive of reading. She also initiated and coordinated a StoryCorps program in the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC). Through this national project that strives “to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening,” Walden aimed to build offenders’ self-esteem and self-awareness; highlight voices often missed in our society; and portray an honest voice of the imprisoned.

“In spite of staff and budget reductions, Diane has forged ahead with an optimistic attitude of getting done what needs to be done,” said ASCLA President Diana Reese. “She is a consistently positive person no matter the situation or hurdles encountered. Her passion for improving library services to offenders drives her to accomplish something every day that will have positive impact. Her internal fire is the power supply that continuously causes her to set the pace and get started on new challenges. This drive to achieve is not only moving the correctional librarianship field forward, it is profoundly impacting the offenders who use correctional libraries and those who work in them.”

Walden received her MLS from the University of Arizona. She previously spent 10 years working in the Florida Department of Corrections, with progressive responsibilities - from a solo correctional librarian to a coordinator of 60 institutional libraries, where she developed library-based literacy, educational and cultural programs. She has worked with the Colorado State Library since 2004 as a senior consultant for the state’s correctional libraries, and is currently responsible for start-up of the library for Colorado Department of Corrections’ newest high security facility.

Reese will officially present the award to Walden at the ASCLA/COSLA Reception on Sunday, June 26, 8-10 p.m. at the 2011 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. This event, open to all ALA Conference attendees, will be held at an ALA Conference hotel. The exact room location will be announced in late spring.

ASCLA, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), is a diverse organization of librarians and staff who work in state library agencies, agencies providing library services to populations with special needs, library cooperatives and those independent librarians who are self-employed. Not an ASCLA member, but interested in discounted registration rates on conference, ASCLA preconferences and other ASCLA events? Join, renew or add ASCLA to your ALA membership at www.ala.org/membership.