Rhode Island Library Association Presents Awards at Annual 2-day Conference

Tuesday, June 04, 2024 4:39 PM | Anonymous

Providence, RI - The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) presented its yearly awards at its Annual Conference, which was held May 22 and 23 at the Providence Public Library. The theme for the conference was “Connecting Communities.”

“We received many outstanding nominations this year and all of us are lucky to work with such incredible colleagues,” said RILA President Beatrice Pulliam.

The 2024 RILA Award winners are:

Library Champion Award: Marianne Mirando, Westerly High School Librarian, Westerly

When critics challenged the titles on the shelves of her school library, Mirando did not cave to pressure, but sought out guidance and support from the ACLU and the RI Attorney General’s office so that she could confidently defend the titles in the library. After meeting with critics, Mirando was able to secure her right to keep the titles in question on the shelf, ensuring that her students would not be denied access to them.

“While others remained silent, Marianne used her powerful voice to speak out against the critics and in defense of the titles under fire in a number of political forums. She was particularly vocal in her opposition to RI bill H6324, a bill that if signed into law would make it easier to ban books and make it possible to arrest librarians, teachers, and museum workers for including questioned books in their collections,” said Anthony Lementowicz, Dean of Teaching and Learning at Westerly High School.

Outstanding Librarian Award: Julie Holden, Assistant Director, Cranston Public Library 

Holden is a nationally and locally respected library leader with a strong commitment to delivering an exceptional customer service experience to library patrons. She has helped create several successful program initiatives at CPL such as “You Are Here” and “Healthy Families at the Cranston Public Library,” and is one of the reasons CPL is an award winning library and one of the busiest libraries in the state. Additionally,  Holden is a past president of the Rhode Island Library Association and is a leader in advocating for fair library ebook pricing and licensing legislation at the Rhode Island General Assembly.

“At CPL Julie focuses on patron satisfaction and works tirelessly to make sure we are offering the public what they are looking for in our collections, programs and services. She's a hands-on manager who is involved in the day-to-day operations of all six library locations, at the same time as she maintains a big-picture perspective, leading her own creative initiatives and challenging norms at the local and state level” said Ed Garcia, Library Director, Cranston Public Library.

Outstanding Library Paraprofessional Award: Kelly McKenna, Circulation Staff, Newport Public Library

Throughout his time at the library McKenna has gone above and beyond to serve the residents of Newport. Whether bringing library materials to remote and isolated individuals on the bookmobile, building connections with patrons at the circulation desk, and remembering all of his coworkers' birthdays, McKenna maintains strong relationships with the Newport community.

“Where some might see limits or challenges, Kelly sees opportunity.  He is always empathetic towards patrons who struggle with their obligations and responsibilities, yet remains steadfast in his duty to work within the policy guidelines, many of which are honed over the course of years.  Being able to balance efficiency with humanity is a hallmark of Kelly’s performance,” said Joseph Logue, Library Director, Newport Public Library.

Trustee of the Year Award: Eugene Mihaly, Chair, Board of Trustees, Jamestown Philomenian Library

Dr. Mihaly brings his varied experience in the educational and non-profit sector to his leadership role at the Jamestown Library, where he advocates for the library in the community and supports the needs of library staff. He provided a calm, steady, and supportive approach by leading the board, staff, and director through the often stressful times of the pandemic and a $5M library renovation and expansion project.

“His advocacy for libraries and their unparalleled role in the public has enabled the staff of JPL to feel supported in their positions, knowing that Milhaly truly understands the various roles we serve. I am honored to consider Gene a part of our library team,” said Lisa Sheley, Library Director, Jamestown Philomenian Library.

Outstanding Contributions to Library Profession Award: Dr. Valerie Karno, Director, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, University of Rhode Island

Karno has been the Director of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science for the last 10 years, beginning her tenure as interim director. Previously, Karno was a professor in the English Department at URI.

Karno spent her first few years as Director learning about the GSLIS and its students and alumni network, as well as the library profession throughout Rhode Island, New England, and the nation. Through her leadership, GSLIS regained a strong position at URI and in the state and region, with increased enrollment, improved retention rates, and increased funding from both external and internal sources.

As director of GSLIS, she has shepherded the school through the pandemic and its American Library Association accreditation process, while transforming the school into an online, accelerated program that is the fastest growing graduate program at URI. Karno also substantially increased the percentage of diverse students enrolled in the program, partially through scholarships and fellowships.

"Rhode Island Library Association" is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Rhode Island Library Association, P.O. Box 6765, Providence, RI 02940

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