For immediate release | January 25, 2011

PLA 2011 award winners represent excellence in public libraries

CHICAGO - The Public Library Association (PLA) has announced the winners of eight awards, honoring the best in public library service and innovation.
The Allie Beth Martin Award, sponsored by Baker & Taylor, recognizes a public librarian for demonstrating a range and depth of knowledge about books and other library materials and the distinguished ability to share that knowledge. This year’s award of $3,000 will be presented to Angelina Benedetti, Cluster Manager, King County (Wash.) Library System, because of her consistent excellence in public librarianship and readers’ advisory advocacy.
The Baker & Taylor Entertainment Audio Music/Video Product Award includes $2,500 in audio music and video products for the circulating collection of the selected recipient. This year’s winner, Huntsville (Texas) Public Library, will use the award to create a circulating music CD collection for children ages 12 and under in its community.
The DEMCO New Leaders Travel Grant provides funds to new public librarians to enable their attendance at major professional development events. This year’s grantees will each receive a minimum of $1,000. They are: Anna Bates, assistant director/children, Stuttgart (Ark.) Public Library; Rebecca Clarke, reference librarian, Springfield-Greene County (Mo.) Library District; and Jenna Hecker, technology and reference librarian, Morrill Memorial Library, Norwood, Mass.
The EBSCO Excellence in Small and/or Rural Public Library Service Award honors a public library that demonstrates excellence in service to a community of 10,000 people or fewer. This year’s $1,000 award recognizes the Independence (Kan.) Public Library for the library’s extraordinary efforts to step in and provide a four-day-a-week, eight-week curriculum for community children when the local school district was unable to fund summer school.
The Gordon M. Conable Award, sponsored by Library Systems & Services LLC, is designed to honor a public library staff member, a library trustee or a public library that has demonstrated a commitment to intellectual freedom and the Library Bill of Rights. Melanie Miller, former director of the Hays (Kan.) Public Library receives this $1,500 award to honor her vigilance and sacrifice in fighting community controversy regarding materials and her efforts to educate others on intellectual freedom.
The Highsmith Library Innovation Award honors a public library’s innovative or creative service program with a $2,000 honorarium. This year’s recipient, Noble County (Ind.) Public Library is recognized for its successful Kindergarten Prep School (KiPS). This service program truly reflects the best of innovative thinking and community collaboration.
The Polaris Innovation in Technology John Iliff Award honors the life and accomplishments of John Iliff, early adopter and champion of technology in public libraries. This award provides a $1,000 honorarium to a library professional or library that has used technology and innovation as a tool to improve services to public library users. David Newyear, adult information services manager of the Mentor (Ohio) Public Library is receiving the award for the creation of “Emma” the Catbot, an engaging artificially intelligent cat that engages library users and provides basic reference services.
The Romance Writers of America Library Grant is designed to provide a public library the opportunity to build or expand its romance fiction collection and/or host romance fiction programming. This year’s $4,500 grant is awarded to the Costa Mesa (Calif.)/Donald Dugan Library for its commitment to better serve its diverse and low-income patrons with new romance purchases in both English and Spanish.
PLA and PLA President Audra Caplan, along with the award sponsors, will recognize all of the award winners from 1 - 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, as a part of the PLA President’s Program featuring David Simon and Laura Lippman at the 2011 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans.
For more information on PLA Awards, contact the PLA office at (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or visit PLA is a division of the American Library Association. PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve, and its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services.


Amy Sargent