An Evening Spent Celebrating Libraries and Honoring Innovation, Leadership, and Service
At the 17th Annual Library Awards Celebration held on February 27, the Berks County Public Library System and its Board of Directors recognized members of the community for their outstanding dedication and support of library services in 2018. A total of 10 awards were presented to groups and individuals for their contributions to the advancement of libraries in Berks County.
System Administrator Amy Resh, welcomed attendees and praised the system's member libraries for all their hard work and dedication that helped make libraries the community powerhouses they are today.
"A few years ago, the Pennsylvania Library Association began a 21st Century Literacies Initiative called PA Forward," stated Resh. "It was conceived to give voice to what the library community already knows, and what other states throughout the nation are also recognizing: With the right support, libraries are ideal community centers of information, technology, and learning that will fuel educational and economic opportunity for all of our citizens."
So far, 13 system libraries have obtained either bronze, silver or gold star status—symbols of their hard work and diligence towards literacy and education in their communities.
Berks County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt attended the awards celebration and remarked upon the successes county libraries have achieved over the years and their essential role in our communities.
Dreisbach Award for Exemplary Service
Winner: Reneé Dietrich, Reading Public Library Trustee
This is the highest honor the System presents. Established in 1996, this award is named for Dr. Dodson E. Dreisbach, founding member of the Friends of Berks County Public Libraries, and first president of the System Board of Directors. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to public library service development.
Past winners include Dodson E. Dreisbach (1996), Chester E. Hagan (1997), Glenn B. Reber (1998), Jean Weiser (2002), Sara R. Mack (2003), Pat and Garland Bear (2004), Friends of Berks County Public Libraries (2005), Commissioner Judy Schwank (2007), Linda Baer (2010), Julie Rinehart (2010), Joan Cook (2011), Sandra Hanson (2013), Liz Eshelman (2014), Mary Young (2016), Vicki Steinberg and Pam Hilbert (2017).
“Reneé is a fierce advocate for libraries in Berks County. As a school librarian, she built two elementary libraries from scratch. At RACC she spent twenty years writing grants and securing funds to advance continuing education and has served on the boards of many local agencies. Reneé joined the Reading Public Library Board of Trustees in 2010 and served as Chairperson from 2013 through 2015. She has contributed her expertise to a fund raising program that has more than tripled in the past three years. In 2016, Reneé provided advocacy training to System Board members and organized the Library Community Conversation held at the Ag Center on April 22, 2017. Reneé is known for her gift in cultivating important relationships. She has brought sound guidance and the power of “the personal ask” to advancement efforts and, in so doing, has been a guiding force for successful libraries.”—Bronwen Gamble, Director of Reading Public Library.
Trustee of the Year
Winner: Joanne Yoder, Kutztown Community Library
This award is presented to to a public library trustee (or entire board of trustees) in recognition of outstanding leadership of a System library.
“Extraordinary trustees help the Kutztown Community Library grow,” Janet wrote in her nomination. “Joanne Yoder acted as an amazing nurturer during her 6-year Board term. She worked behind the scenes in a pleasant and unassuming way. She picked up on small details that are often overlooked and took it upon herself to do them in a helpful and friendly way. She kindly cultivated our gardens, set up the picnic grove for the Library Express, and beautified our space. Joanne shared her honest opinions based on knowledge and professional experience for Board decisions.
She was an instrumental team member that created our Strategic Plan. As a valuable link between the Board and KCL’s Friends, Joanne informed and coordinated efforts. Additional services included being the Kutztown Borough Liaison, KCL Corresponding Secretary, Personnel Committee, and attending BCPL Board meetings.
Term limits may have ended her tenure on the Board but we know that Joanne will continue to sprinkle the seeds of literacy at the library.”—Janet Yost, Director of the Kutztown Community Library.
Outstanding Elected Official
Winner: Shawn Raup-Konsavage, Mayor of Bernville
This award recognizes an elected officials at any level of government for outstanding support of library services.
"Shawn was elected the Mayor of Bernville in January 2018. Since that time he has been a strong supporter and advocate for the library, as well as the community. He has assisted in simplifying several tasks we do at the library and held a fundraiser at his home on Halloween which brought in $361 this year. Shawn has donated many items to our programs, including more than 150 cookies for our holiday cookie decorating event. In addition to the items he donated, he has also generated over $1,200 in revenue for the library in under a year. He currently resides on our Board of Trustees where he is a true go-getter and an asset in getting things done. In all his leadership positions, he is more than just a figurehead, and is a valued member of our library and the community."—Alicea Rodig, Director of the Bernville Area Community Library.
Outstanding Library Director
Winner: Melissa Adams, Muhlenberg Community Library
This award is presented to a member library director who fosters cooperation and collaboration among member libraries, shares time and talent with other libraries on county-wide initiatives, and has an effective and resourceful impact on the community.
“Melissa's work this year on the new Fines and Fees policy alone should earn her the Library Director Certificate of Merit. She took on a very difficult job, going above and beyond what was required to work on a very important project that would affect every library in the county. She did it with efficiency, fairness, and integrity. But Melissa is also a leader in our Berks County Library System by being at the forefront of library services in our area. Muhlenberg Community Library was one of the first libraries to obtain the Gold Star in PA Forward, and her library continues to be the first to offer new and innovative programs and services to her patrons. She is an inspiration and outstanding role model to other Library Directors.”—Carin Mileshosky, Director of Fleetwood Area Public Library.
Outstanding Community Organization
Winner: Northern Berks EMS
This award is presented to a local nonprofit or community based organization in recognition of its support of the public library in its community.
“Our local EMS Company has been an indispensable partner in our programming for various age groups over the years. Volunteers from Northern Berks EMS have presented interactive programs for preschoolers and school ages this year. The firefighters read stories to the group in the children’s area. They showed kids the inside of the ambulance with all of the equipment and answered any questions. They have even allowed the kids to see their heartbeats using the monitor carried on the ambulance. In addition, Northern Berks has also begun to advertise and promote the libraries events through their own newsletter and has included us as a partner in their events as well. We were grateful to be included in their First Responder Festival which has a large community presence and was a great place to promote the library's upcoming Summer Reading programs.”—Christie Brown, Director of Schuylkill Valley Community Library.
Outstanding Local Business
Winner: Snapology of Lancaster and Reading PA
This award is presented to a local business or local office of a regional, state or national corporation in recognition of its support of public library services.
“As libraries evolve, it is crucial that programming evolves as well. Our partnership with Snaplology has been both exciting and beneficial for our patrons. Over the course of the year, programs that originated from the Snapology course offerings evolved into more library based ideas and we were able to develop unique programs specifically aimed towards the families at The Mifflin Community Library. This past summer, we offered weekly camps at our location in which children were able to have the platform to build and create within a defined theme for three hours at a time. Over the holiday break, we also developed "Mini Camps" in which parents could drop off children on days off from school and they could operate in a theme based program, mainly centered on STEM based learning. Snapology has been flexible, as well as willing to work within our library budget and because of that, children who may not otherwise be able to attend these programs and camps have been able to do so.”—Andrea Hunter, Youth Services Librarian at Mifflin Community Library.
Outstanding Fundraising Effort
Winner: Under a Spell at MCL, Muhlenberg Community Library
This award is presented in recognition of a onetime or ongoing fundraising project that is especially creative or unique. The amount of funds raised is not a factor in determining the recipient of this award.
“This annual event started when Muhlenberg’s Halloween-loving staff came forward with a great idea to raise funds and engage the community: a Halloween Fundraising Extravaganza. Part of the event is Trunk-or-Treat, which is a great way to develop business partnerships while the community can safely trick-or-treat. We also have face painting, a costume contest, a hay-bale maze, crafts, an escape room challenge, and a movie. In addition, each year there is a special program held as part of the day, such as a visit with Charlie Adams. Patrons love paying the nominal entrance fee for a full day of Halloween fun, and staff enjoy it so much they have started planning for 2019 already. This year they more than doubled the funds raised in 2017, pulling in $1,132 for the library. This fundraiser is truly a winner because it is fueled by the passion and creativity of the staff. Raising $1,132 and engaging business and community members is just an extra treat in our Halloween Fundraising bag.”—Melissa Adams, Director of Muhlenberg Community Library.
Outstanding Program Award
Winner: Explore Earth: Our Changing Planet, Muhlenberg Community Library
This award recognizes a member library for the presentation of an adult, young adult, or children’s program of exceptional interest or creativity.
“The Muhlenberg Community Library was one of only 14 libraries nationally to receive the traveling exhibit Explore Earth: Our Changing Planet, which focused on bringing STEM to historically underrepresented populations, such as Latino and low-income communities.
The exhibit consisted of six double-sided panels that explored various aspects of the Earth, a touch-screen computer kiosk that had several educational games, and a hands-on Discover Station.
From January 13 to March 8, book displays, interactive stations, and events were thematically coordinated. The library held 19 connected events: 1 Kick-off, 6 Adult Events, 5 Family Events, 3 Events geared for Children K-6th grade, and 4 Teen Events. Highlights of this 8-week long program include a live butterfly habitat and presentation from Folks Butterfly Farm; a lecture by NASA Scientist Brian Campbell; and a presentation by Eastern PA Weather Authority.
Staff also created lesson plans for a field trip unit on gravity that 23 different classes and over 600 children attended.”—Melissa Adams, Director of Muhlenberg Community Library.
Lina Baer Friend of the Year
Winner: Dian Beamesderfer, Womelsdorf Community Library.
This award is presented in honor of Linda Baer, past President of the Friends of Berks County Public Libraries and recognizes the significant and substantial commitment of time, energy and creativity of a single member of a local library Friends organization. The award includes a $100 cash prize sponsored by the Friends of the Berks County Public Libraries.
“Dian has been a strong supporter of public libraries for decades. Throughout those years, she has worn many hats: Friends Program Coordinator, Secretary, and Vice Chair, Local Library Board Member, Capital Campaign Committee member, BCPL Friends Board Member, Liaison and Vice President, Baker & Soup Maker for events, Book Bonanza & local Book Sale Volunteer.
All in an effort to make sure local, public libraries remain free and open to everyone. As Program Coordinator, Dian spear-headed countless efforts that raised thousands of dollars for her local library. As a Board Member and Capital Campaign Committee member, she helped secure a Keystone Grant and obtain matching funds to renovate on old bank into a lovely new library. Additionally, in her role as BCPL Friends Liaison, she helped BCPL Friends Board receive the Dreisbach Award. Over the last 28 years, Dian has tirelessly contributed creative ideas, energetic enthusiasm, and lots of hard work.”—Friends of the Womelsdorf Communitiy Library.
Chet Hagan Memorial Public Relations Award
Winner: Schuylkill Valley Community Library
In 1991, the annual System/District Trustee Workshop program focused on the role of effective public relations in securing adequate funding for libraries. Chet Hagan, as a member of the System Board, was the prime mover in developing and arranging this well-received workshop program. Chet was then the editor of Bookends, the excellent publication of the Friends of the Reading-Berks Public Libraries. And so the Public Relations Award began with its first presentation to Chet Hagan on September 14, 1991.
Why the hen? At that 1991 workshop, the following fable was told:
A goose is probably the most stupid creature that God ever created. When a goose lays an egg, what does she do? Does she flap her wings and lift her voice to the high heavens announcing the fact? No! She waddles off as if she were ashamed of the feat and tells no one.
What does the hen do when she lays an egg, which is much smaller than the fine specimen produced by the goose? She announces the fact to all who will hear! She lifts her voice in glee! She is proud of her product and wants the whole world to know about it.
What is the end result? There is usually more demand for hen eggs than there is for goose eggs. It pays to advertise. The hen knows this, but the goose doesn’t.
The award made to Chet Hagan in 1991 consisted of a trophy featuring a hen — the Henny was born! In 1992, the System Board voted to add a dividend to the award by presenting the winning library with a check for $250. Following Chet’s death in 2002, the System Board and the Friends Board wished to honor his memory and his many contributions to library service development in Berks County. The annual PR award was therefore renamed The Chet Hagan Memorial Public Relations Award. The Friends added their own annual $250 prize, bringing the total for the winning library to $500.