Pierce County Library Director receives 2010 Sullivan Award

Contact: Cheryl Malden

Program Officer




For Immediate Release,

March 29, 2010

The American Library Association (ALA) is announcing Neel Parikh, executive director, Pierce County Library System, as the 2010 winner of the Sullivan Award for the Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children Award. Parikh is the seventh winner of this award, provided by former ALA President Peggy Sullivan.

The Sullivan Award is given to an individual who demonstrates “exceptional understanding and support of public library service to children while having general management/supervisory/administrative responsibility that has included public library service to children in its scope.” One supporter noted, “What most impresses me about Neel is her obvious desire to do the right thing for kids. She demonstrates this by working doggedly to produce the best project or partnership that helps public libraries do more for young children.”

At her direction, the Pierce County Library System has become a leader in providing early learning training and support for families, child care providers and library staff both locally and across the state. While Parikh believes that early learning is a critical service for all public libraries, she maintains that teen services are equally important. She supported Pierce County Library System becoming one of the first Libraries of Promise, which seeks to move people to build the character and competence of children by providing them access to learning.

Parikh’s leadership as a strong community collaborator is a testament to her success for moving early learning forward throughout Pierce County. She has collaborated with social service organizations, schools, cities and many community leaders and organizations to build services that directly help the youngest learners.

She is a founding member and chair of the Early Learning Public Library Partnership, a consortium created with the vision that public libraries are full, essential partners in the early learning movement in Washington State. Under her leadership, the partnership has grown from 18 to 27 public libraries across the state. The consortium puts public libraries at the table with other early learning organizations and helps communities see the value of library services in local early education efforts. As her colleagues in the Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department note, she “brings a lifetime of commitment to children to her leadership not just at the Pierce County Library, but throughout Pierce County. Over the years, Neel has modeled to the rest of our community what it looks like when you put children and families first. Her impact on Pierce County and its families is palpable and inspiring.”

“With these glowing recommendations and her passion for services to children, the Sullivan Award Jury is pleased to select Neel Parikh as the 2010 Award winner,” said Genevieve S. Owens, 2010 jury chair.

In addition to her library responsibilities, Parikh has been active in ALA, the Association for Library Service to Children, the Public Library Association and the Washington Library Association. Neel was a member of ALA Council from 1998-2002. She has served on the PLA Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Washington Library Association.

Parikh has been the Executive Director of the Pierce County Library System since 1994. Prior to coming to Pierce County Library, she held positions at the San Francisco Public Library and the Alameda County Library.

Parikh holds a Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of California Berkeley and she completed the Cascade Public Executive Program at the University of Washington. The annual award will be presented in June at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

Members of the 2010 Sullivan Award committee are: Chair, Genevieve S. Owens, Williamsburg Regional Library, Williamsburg, Va.; Clara N. Bohrer, West Bloomfield Township Public Library, West Bloomfield, Mich.; Dora Ho, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, Calif.; and Dawn Zeig, Renaissance One School of Humanities, Paterson, N.J.

The deadline for submission of applications for the 2011 Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children is Dec. 1, 2010. Guidelines and application forms are available on the ALA Web site,
http://www.ala.org, in the Awards & Grants section under Professional Recognition.