For immediate release | February 25, 2014

PLA awards recognize 13 individuals and public libraries representing excellence

CHICAGO — The Public Library Association (PLA) has announced 13 2014 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 Rollie James Welch, collection manager, Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library, for work that not only recognizes the fundamental influence of teen literature but also celebrates the joy of working with YA resources.

The Baker & Taylor Entertainment Audio Music/Video Product Award includes $2,500 in audio music and video products from the sponsor for the circulating collection of the selected recipient. This year’s winner, Broadview (Ill.) Public Library District, will use the award toward “The 30 Days Project: Celebrating the Legacy of African American Music,” an inaugural program for the library during African American Music Appreciation month (June).

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 receive grants between $1,000-$1,500 grants to attend a PLA continuing education event. Grantees are: Andrea Hirsh, electronic services/community outreach librarian, Juneau (Alaska) Public Libraries; Zac Paul Matthews, digital services librarian, Everett (Wash.) Public Library; Emery M. Ortiz, assistant director, Onslow County (N.C.) Public Library; and Michelle A. Moore, librarian and director, Missaukee District (Mich.) 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 Bertha Voyer Memorial Library in Honey Grove, Texas, for its efforts to maximize resources, develop engaging programming and truly become the heart of its community (population 1,648).

The Gordon M. Conable Award, sponsored by LSSI, honors 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. A $1,500 check and commemorative plaque will be presented to the Smithville (Texas) Public Library for its staff’s strength and commitment to defending intellectual freedom and providing open access while facing community challenges to “Let's Talk About It: Muslim Journeys series,” a grant program sponsored by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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. It is presented to the Edmonton Public Library in Alberta, Canada, for its Web-based service, the “Me Card,” which allows customers with a library card from one library to create an account with and access the collections at another library with no staff intervention and with no new additional physical library cards.

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 Red Wing (Minn.) Public Library in order to fill a “deep void” in their collections and support their community program “A Year of Romance.”

The Upstart Library Innovation Award honors a public library’s innovative or creative service program with a $2,000 honorarium. The 2014 winner is Terrebonne Parish (La.) Library for its work supporting the Future Leaders of America’s Gulf (FLAG) project, a library-based multimedia program that facilitated teen participation in the investigation of the environmental, economic and community issues that affect Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

PLA also offers two awards for feature articles contributed to its bimonthly journal, Public Libraries. This year’s first place winner ($500 prize) is by Jasmina Jusic for her article Entrepreneurial Leadership (July/August 2013). An honorable mention and a $300 prize is awarded to Nicholas Higgins for “Family Literacy on the Inside” (January/February 2013).

PLA President Carolyn Anthony, 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, 1-2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 29, at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

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

Marketing and Communications Manager

Public Library Association (PLA)