Kathleen Reif, director St. Mary’s County (Md.) Library, receives 2013 Sullivan Award
For Immediate Release
Cheryl M. Malden
Executive Office (EXEC)
CHICAGO— The American Library Association has awarded the 2013 Peggy Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children to Kathleen Reif, director of St. Mary’s County Library, Leonardtown, Md. 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. The award will be presented at the ALA President's Program, Sunday, June 30 at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Chicago.
Reif received the award for her sustained and effective efforts to provide children’s services, with particular attention to early literacy and learning and Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR), a parent education outreach initiative. In nominating Reif, Clara N. Bohrer, director of West Bloomfield Township Public Library, Bloomfield, Michigan, said, “Kathleen works diligently behind the scenes to make things happen—actions which promote public libraries and benefit children and families." John Bohanan, member of Maryland’s House of Delegates, adds “Kathleen strongly advocates for library services and the importance of providing services to children beginning at birth implementing many programs at St. Mary’s County Libraries geared toward pre-school aged children.” At the local level, Reif expanded the Words on Wheels (WoW!) Van Service which visits childcare providers and centers and distributes WoW! Bags containing books, music, and ECRR learning and activity sheets. She also created and has nurtured community relationships and partnerships with Judy Centers, Head Start, social services and local businesses to further early literacy. Children’s computers were installed at all three branches, including AWE early literacy stations. The library also was recently selected as one of five pilot sites for The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant in Maryland.
Reif developed and chaired the Maryland Association of Public Library Administrators (MAPLA) Birth to Four Task Force in 1998 which led to a statewide campaign titled “It’s Never Too Early” and was instrumental in developing an on-going relationship with public libraries and Ready at Five, a statewide public/private partnership which gives voice to young children in Maryland. She was also appointed by the Governor Martin O’Malley to represent public libraries on the Maryland Early Childhood Advisory Council.
Through Reif’s perseverance, the Public Library Association/NICHD partnership was created in 2000, which ultimately led to the PLA/ALSC Every Child Ready to Read initiative. This work was recognized and in part, earned Maryland public libraries and Reif an invitation to participate in Laura Bush’s White House Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development in 2001. And in her “behind the scenes” way, Reif’s leadership led to the creation, in 2012, of a partnership between IMLS, the Office of Head Start, and the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Child Care to encourage collaboration between early childhood programs and public libraries to meet the educational needs of young children and their families.
“We have witnessed and can attest to her unwavering commitment to early literacy and her relentless drive to improve and promote it here and elsewhere,” states a letter of nomination from Reif’s staff. They also noted that the children’s departments of the libraries were “transformed into welcoming spaces where children and families can spend meaningful moments growing and learning together.”
“The 2013 Sullivan Award committee was unanimous in their selection of Kathleen Reif,” said Dodie Ownes, 2013 jury chair. “Aside from her extensive CV and glowing letters of recommendation, her intense focus and commitment to early literacy (It’s Never Too Early, Birth to Five, ECRR, Summit on Early Childhood, etc…) is what I feel definitely puts her on top,” noted one jury member. Another stated “Good leaders can change lives and it sounds like Kathleen has done that as a library administrator in terms of her library colleagues in St. Mary’s County, the role model she has become for others dedicated to childhood literacy, and for all the children her initiatives have touched.”
Members of the 2013 Sullivan Award Committee are: Chair Dodie Ownes, editor, SLJTeen, Golden, Colo.; Deborah B. Dancik, University Librarian, Willamette University, Salem, Ore.; Natalie Donoso-Lane, Public Services Librarian, Children’s Services Division, Marion County Public Library, Ocala, Fla.; John Sandstrom, Acquisitions Librarian, New Mexico State University Library, Las Cruces, N.M.; and 2012 Sullivan Award winner Lynda Freas, Family Services Director, Anythink Libraries, Thornton, Colo.