For immediate release | February 7, 2012

PLA award winners represent excellence in public libraries

CHICAGO - The Public Library Association (PLA) has announced 12 2012 award winners honoring the best in public library service, innovation and outreach.

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 Kaite Mediatore Stover, readers’ services manager, Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library, because of the expertise she brings to reading initiatives within her community and into the library world at large.

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, Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Public Library, will use the award to expand its media collection and better meet the needs and interests of their diverse user-community.

The Charlie Robinson Award, sponsored by Baker & Taylor, honors a public library director who, over a period of seven years, has been a risk taker, an innovator and/or a change agent in a public library. This year’s award of $1,000 is presented to Pam Sandlian Smith, director, Anythink Libraries, Adams County, Colo., for her transformative vision and leadership in reinventing the Rangeview Library District.

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 $1,250. They are: Lisa Brock, branch manager, Riverside County (Calif.) Library System; Richard Lyda, outreach librarian, Arapahoe Library District, Centennial, Colo.; Kirby McCurtis, librarian II, children, San Diego (Calif.) Public Library; and April Wallace, library director, Pinson (Ala.) Public Library.

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 Kinsley (Kans.) Public Library for its online “One-Stop Shop” showcasing the history of its home county, with resources gathered from historians, architects, computer programmers, newspaper editors, the librarian and volunteers.

The Highsmith Library Innovation Award honors a public library’s innovative or creative service program with a $2,000 honorarium. The 2012 winner is San Diego County (Calif.) Public Library for its efforts with partner Housing Opportunities Collaborative (HOC) to provide Foreclosure Prevention HOME Clinics, reaching 2,912 attendees and offering an assumed market value of $2,446,500 of free consulting services.

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. Presented to Joan K. Weaver, director, Kinsley (Kans.) Public Library, for her nimble efforts with 2.1 FTE staff, volunteers and community partners to create a library website that also highlights community resources and information.

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 Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Public Library. The library will use the funds to recover lost materials from an area F4 tornado and to enhance their existing collection with romance e-book titles.

PLA also offers two awards for feature articles contributed to its bimonthly journal, Public Libraries. This year’s first place winner ($500 prize) is Valerie Gross, CEO, Howard County (Md.) Library. Her article, “Choose Civility – Public Libraries Take Center Stage,” which appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of Public Libraries, details how the Howard County Library conceived and developed “Choose Civility,” an ongoing community-wide initiative that aims to enhance respect, empathy, consideration and tolerance in Howard County.

Kenneth Williment, community development manager, Nova Scotia Public Libraries, Halifax, Nova Scotia, received an honorable mention and a $300 prize for two articles in the March/April 2011 issue, “It Takes a Community to Create a Library” and “From Project to Branch Integration and Sustainability.” Co-writers were Tracy Jones-Grant, literacy, ESL, and diversity services manager, Halifax (N.S.) Public Libraries and Denise Somers, manager, Musquodoboit Harbour (N.S.) Public Library and Sheet Harbor (N.S.) Public Library.

PLA President Marcia Warner, along with the award sponsors and PLA members will recognize all of the award winners as part of the PLA President’s Program and Awards Presentation, 1:00-2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

PLA award winners are chosen by the PLA Award juries and the Public Libraries Advisory Subcommittee. For more information on PLA Awards and to volunteer for jury or committee appointments, visit or contact the PLA office at (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA. 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

Manager, Marketing

Public Library Association (PLA)

1-800-545-2433 ext.5024