The Graduate School of Library and Information Studies is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s awards for Library of the Year and Alumni of the Year. The Library of the Year for 2023 is West Warwick Public Library in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Each year, GSLIS honors two alumni: one who graduated 10 or more years ago and another recent alumnus who graduated within the last 5-10 years. Our Alumna of the Year for 2023 is Maria Cotto and our Recent Alumna of the Year for 2023 is Tayla Cardillo. These awards will be presented at the GSLIS Annual Gathering, to be held May 12, 2023 at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Warwick, RI where we are celebrating our 60th Anniversary Jubilee. The Annual Gathering is an evening of professional camaraderie and celebration that will celebrate these award winners, along with our graduates, alumni, current students, and larger community.
West Warwick Public Library is being recognized for their contributions to public library service, patron access, accessibility of library materials and services, and efforts towards equity in library work and library services. The West Warwick Public Library was a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Services in 2021 and 2022 (given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services). West Warwick Public Library Director Colin McCullough told the Cranston Herald in 2021, “Our patrons’ needs might be informational, educational or – given the last twelve months – simply fun and entertainment, but each request is met with the same care and consideration by a dedicated staff. This recognition on the part of IMLS is a well-deserved tribute to their creativity, commitment to inclusivity, and sense of community.” In 2022, the West Warwick Public Library went fine free, even erasing the debt of long overdue books. Head of Circulation Caitlin Mendoza told ABC 6 News that this was part of an effort “to bring our residents back to the library.” The West Warwick Public Library also reaches out to their community on social media, creating videos on TikTok and YouTube about hidden gems in the library, the library’s pet gecko, and library programs and services, posting about programs and services on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. GSLIS selected West Warwick Public Library as Library of the Year for 2023 because of their commitment to serving their diverse community with excellence, compassion, and friendliness.
After graduating from URI GSLIS in 2008, Maria Cotto worked as a Youth Services Librarian in Pawtucket Public Library, Central Falls Free Public Library, and the Knight Memorial Library in the Providence Community Library. In 2013, Cotto returned to the Pawtucket Public Library as Bilingual Children’s Librarian. She spearheaded efforts to develop the Sensory Friendly Inclusive Group. According to the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services website, “The Sensory Friendly Inclusive Group seeks to empower librarians to better serve individuals of all ages and backgrounds who are neurodiverse or on the autism spectrum and their families by expanding programming, outreach, partnerships, and resources that welcome all abilities.” Among many other accomplishments, Cotto has also served as Chair of the Rhode Island Latino Book Awards since 2014. URI GSLIS is proud of Maria Cotto and all of her exemplary contributions to the field of public librarianship, equitable library services, and the Rhode Island library community.
Tayla Cardillo graduated from GSLIS in 2019, only a few years ago. Since that time, she has worked as a Reference and Young Adult Services Librarian at the Coventry Public Library and now as the Branch Librarian at the Oak Lawn Branch of the Cranston Public Library. Cardillo hosts a podcast at the library, Down Time with Cranston Public Library, serves on the Rhode Island Teen Book Awards Committee, and as Co-Chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Rhode Island Library Association. Cardillo told the RILA Bulletin that “I think protecting people's intellectual freedom as well as their right to read and access information is one of the most important aspects of our jobs as library professionals.” URI GSLIS is proud of Tayla Cardillo and her commitment to intellectual freedom, youth services, and public librarianship in Rhode Island.
GSLIS is proud of all our 2023 award winners and looks forward to celebrating with them on May 12 at our Annual Gathering.