SMITHFIELD, RI - The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) presented its annual awards at its Annual Conference, which was held May 25 and 26 at Bryant University in Smithfield. The theme for the conference was “Restore, Reconnect, Reflect.”
"This year’s award recipients represent a wide cross section of library staff and advocates,” said RILA President Rachael Juskuv. “We were so fortunate to be able to have this awards reception in person this year, and give the winners the recognition they richly deserve."
The 2022 RILA Award winners are:
Library Champion Award: Elyse Wasch, Former Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Senator Jack Reed.
“Elyse worked tirelessly behind the scenes as an advocate for libraries in Rhode Island and around the country,” said Karen Mellor, Chief of Library Services of the Office of Library & Information Services. “Following the Senator’s lead as a champion of libraries, she developed an expertise in libraries and library legislation unrivaled by anyone on Capitol Hill and built broad bipartisan support for the Senator’s library agenda. During the pandemic she worked to secure funding for libraries in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, resulting in over $2.3 million of federal funding to help Rhode Island libraries respond to and recover from the pandemic. We are so very grateful for her efforts - Elyse is indeed a true champion of libraries.”
Outstanding Librarian Award: Nancy Kellner, Youth Outreach Librarian, Rogers Free Library, Bristol.
“When COVID hit, the library did not have a director. Nancy stepped up to the plate as co-interim director. Being a director is already a tremendous amount of work, but being a director during a pandemic is even harder. She encouraged staff to call, email, or text whenever they needed something. She never complained, and never said no. Nancy is a wonderful leader,” said Kristin Amaral, a former employee at the Rogers Free Library.
Outstanding Library Paraprofessional Award: Bethany Mott, Head of Circulation, East Smithfield Public Library
“Ms. Mott has made significant contributions to library programming. She runs the monthly evening book group, hosts craft classes, and is responsible for the graphic design and printing of the monthly library newsletter. She has been instrumental in the planning and design of the library’s new Makerspace. Ms. Mott is an important and vital member of the library workforce,” said Catherine Lynn, president of the Friends of the East Smithfield Public Library.
Meritorious Friend of the Library Award: Catherine Murray, Friends of the Rogers Free Library, Bristol
“The latest project Catherine has contributed to is the launch of our affiliation with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL),” said Insley Julier of Rogers Free Library. “Catherine generates marketing and promotion for DPIL, and her knowledge and understanding of graphic design and communications are only part of what she brings to the table. Her sense of humor always enlivens our meetings. We are thrilled that Ms. Murray has received this award.”
Meritorious Friends of the Library Award: The Friends of the Exeter Public Library
”Rhode Island’s newest library, the Exeter Public Library, which opened in September 2004, is the direct result of Exeter residents Helen Douglas, David Zannelli, and the Friends of the Exeter Public Library,” said Tien Tran, the library's director. “It is hard to overstate the amount of work that Helen, Dave, and the Friends put in through numerous programs and initiatives that played such an important role in the library’s creation. The Friends are creating an endowment with the Rhode Island Foundation to preserve and grow the funds that they have raised over the years. I am so moved and humbled by the comprehensiveness of their vision and support.”