The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) presented its annual awards at the RILA Annual Conference, which was held virtually June 3-4, 2021. The theme for the conference was “Well + Connected: Libraries and Healthy Communities,” and the recipients of this year’s awards exemplify the library community’s commitment to creating and supporting strong and healthy communities.
"This is an exceptional slate of award recipients,” said outgoing RILA President Julie Holden, “and we are honored to highlight and promote their work, especially our library supporters, former Representative Robert Jacquard and Mary Ann and Walter Slocomb."
Congratulations to the winners of this year's RILA Awards:
Library Champion Award: Robert Jacquard, Former State Representative, District 17, Cranston
“During his long tenure at the State House, Jacquard was a champion for Rhode Island libraries and a tireless advocate for full funding of state grant-in-aid for public libraries,” said Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library. “For his unwavering support of libraries and his hard work and advocacy for increased library funding, Jacquard exemplifies the qualities and dedication of a library champion and is deserving of recognition with this award.”
“I really appreciate this award from the library association,” said Robert Jacquard. “Libraries have been as important as local schools to me during my time in the general assembly. I think we’re going to see, after the pandemic, that libraries are more important to people than ever.”
Outstanding Librarian Award: Michelle Steever, Librarian at East Greenwich High School
“With Mrs. Michelle Steever’s arrival at East Greenwich High School, we gained more than a media specialist,” said David Amiradri, a student at the high school. “We gained a technology-savvy executive, with a clear vision of the library of the future. We gained a compassionate educator, understanding of the challenges faced by students in the twenty-first century.”
“She has brought her leadership skills and broad perspective to the School Improvement Team as we develop best practices and student supports,” said Frank Lenox, a teacher in the science department at East Greenwich High School. “Through all of our interactions, I am reminded how central a library is to the daily practices of a school community. And even more, how essential a librarian can be to the staff and students of every school community.”
“Her reach and impact extends well beyond the faculty, staff, and students at East Greenwich High School,” said Patricia Page, Business and Digital Technology Educator at East Greenwich High School. “Michelle has redefined what a student-centered, professional learning community looks, feels, and sounds like.”
Outstanding Library Paraprofessional Award: Lynda LaCava, Library Assistant at North Providence Union Free Library
“Lynda has been inside, outside, and all around North Providence performing outdoor story times, virtual visits to nearby parks, and never once let weather or the pandemic deter her from providing these essential services to the community,” said Stefanie Blankenship, director of the North Providence Union Free Library.
Trustee of the Year Award: Dorothy Swain, Chair of the Board of Trustees at North Providence Union Free Library
Ms. Swain “embodies the true sense of libraries, beyond physical buildings, and is always at the ready to help and serve,” said Stefanie Blankenship, director of the North Providence Union Free Library. “She has led us through one of the most difficult years without once faltering. Though she has seen this library go through many transitions, this past year was without a doubt the most jolting. Yet, her steadfast manner held us all together.”
Meritorious Friend of the Library Award: Mary Ann and Walter Slocomb, Cranston Public Library
“The Slocombs have been strong supporters of the Cranston Public Library for several years,” said Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library. “Mary Ann and Walter created the Mary Ann and Walter Slocomb Fund at the Cranston Public Library Association in 2016 with a $10,000 donation. To date, they have donated over $50,000. Mary Ann and Walter have been incredible friends of the Cranston Public Library, not only donating their money but in giving of their time. They have volunteered at our Friends book sale and also attend library programs and special events. They have been a major part in the Cranston Public Library becoming a nationally recognized award-winning library.”