RILA Awards Winners 2018

Congratulations to our 2018 Award Winners! 

We thank you for your service to the RI Library Community!

Outstanding Librarian Award

Presented to Maria Cotto, Pawtucket Public Library

Maria is well recognized in the library community as a leader in children's programming. As a librarian, Maria saw an opportunity to provide specialized library services and programs to children with autism, and at the same time provide parents with much-needed support and hard-to-find resources. She developed Autism Spectrum programming specially designed to create a comfortable and safe environment in which children are free to learn, read and have fun in their library.  Maria also actively encourages and inspires other librarians in Rhode Island to develop their own Autism Spectrum programming. In addition, Maria has organized the May RI Latino Book Month for years. She has chosen the books and promotes them statewide to other children's and teen librarians. Maria has presented at the RILA conference and also partnered with the Office of Library and Information Services continuing education program. She is a member of the OSL eZone Committee; the RI Latino Arts organization librarian in charge of promoting and organizing the statewide Latino Book Month; a member of Cornucopia of RI; and a member of the 2015 ALA Belpre Award Selection Committee.

Outstanding Library Paraprofessional Award

Presented to Mary Skaba, Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library

Mary has worked at the Jesse Smith Library since 1987 and has been an integral member of the library community for decades.  Ms. Skaba is responsible for overseeing a busy circulation department as well as all collection maintenance functions including cataloging, weeding and shifting.  She was instrumental in bringing the Jesse Smith Library into the Ocean State Libraries (OSL) Consortium. She worked tirelessly to coordinate the addition of the collection into the online catalog, and to ensure the library follows all standards and procedures necessary to provide quality library services.  Ms. Skaba was a critical member of the team that transitioned the Jesse Smith Library from a 6,200 sq. ft. small library to the 24,900 sq. ft. building library we occupy today. Mary always keeps abreast of trends and innovation in the library field, and pushes us to be a vibrant community center. Mary has been an active member of the OSL Circulation Heads and Database Management groups.  Mary served as a statewide trainer when OSL transitioned to the Millennium integrated library system (ILS). Mary is well-known for her patient and informative training style.

2 Trustee of the Year Awards

Presented to Robert Sloan, East Greenwich Free Library

Bob has dedicated 12 years of his life to the East Greenwich Free Library, serving on the Board of Trustees through four separate terms between 2005 and 2018. He has brought his expertise as a financial planner to the board and currently serves as the Library Board Treasurer. During his tenure as a trustee, he has been guiding the library’s investment policy. The library’s endowment has grown under his watchful eye. As treasurer, he monitored construction expenses in 2015, when the library embarked on a construction project with the assistance of a Champlin grant.  Bob is very active in the community. Through his membership in clubs like the East Greenwich Rotary, he brought good people into the fold and spread the word on the value of library services. Bob now serves on the Library Board of Rhode Island. Bob has always been very supportive of the library staff. We consider him a good friend as well as a super library advocate.

Presented to Robert K. Taylor, Providence Public Library

Rob has been a PPL trustee since 2006, and chaired the board for six years from 2012-2018.  Through his oversight, the Providence Public Library has completely transformed. He led the charge for PPL’s 2014 strategic planning process, which enabled the library to create a new foundation and vision on which to rebuild itself.  He was able to ensure that the PPL Board seed-fund the initial implementation of the new strategic plan. Rob is also incredibly connected and respected. On countless occasions, he has opened the door to a new connection, donor or advocate for myself or anyone else at the library. To understand fully how respected Rob is by his colleagues on the Board, one only need to look around the room to see and hear how carefully other Board members listen to him and vote according to his recommendations. Also, and perhaps most importantly, Rob is always around whenever we need him. He attends nearly every committee meeting of the Board regularly, which are not infrequent. He is always on call whenever he is needed, whether it’s to meet with the Mayor or a City Council member or to participate in a PPL program. He is a steadfast supporter of PPL in every way, and we are lucky to have him as part of the PPL family.

Citation of Merit or Meritorious Friends of the Library

Presented to Tony Aguilar, Providence Community Library

In 2017, Tony was instrumental to RILA and COLA in the development of our advocacy commercial. He completed a successful 3 month public relations and marketing campaign, which resulted in the airing of a powerful library advocacy video on a variety of television stations across the state. Tony helped us to create a script and worked with our videographer to send out a casting call to find people to star in our video. Tony facilitated the entire process for RILA, coordinating site locations and schedules, cast auditions, and copy editing of the script. Tony has a generous and giving nature and gives back to the Rhode Island Community in a number of ways. Aside from being part of the RI creative community, Tony serves on the Board of Trustees of the Providence Community Library (PCL), the Board of Directors of Festival Ballet Providence, and Community Board Member to Rhode Island PBS. Within PCL, Tony is part of the Executive Committee, serves as Chair of the Advocacy Committee, and is part of the Strategic Planning Committee.

RILA Advocacy Champions

Presented to Engaged East Greenwich, East Greenwich School Libraries

Engaged East Greenwich is “a nonpartisan group of citizens from diverse backgrounds, political affiliations and perspectives who share a love of and commitment to East Greenwich.”

In recognition of their ongoing support of libraries and their seemingly endless efforts to raise awareness in the community regarding the lack of a certified library media specialist at East Greenwich High School, we present this special award to them. Since September they have organized a multitude of activities, events and materials to raise community awareness about the vital need for a certified librarian not only at the high school, but in every school.  To date, the “Engaged EG” group has:

  • Built and distributed 14 “Little Libraries” to call attention to the closure of the East Greenwich High School Library and local officials’ failure to respond to repeated calls for its reopening. (14 represents five Town Council members and seven School Committee members, as well as a Superintendent and a Town Manager.)

  • Coordinated a Valentine event where East Greenwich students wrote valentines expressing why they loved their school librarians. The valentines were delivered to a joint Town Council/School Committee on February 12, 2018.

  • Sponsored a petition with EveryLibrary to call for a full-time library media specialist in every school.

  • Developed a Facebook page that promotes information literacy efforts in the town – especially trying to develop context and fact-check information circulated in town.


Aaron Coutu

Chair of RILA Nominations Committee

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