VLA Announces 2022 Award Winners

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) has selected winners for the 2022 association awards from a very competitive application pool. Librarians and library project teams from academic, public, and special libraries across the commonwealth are honored for their exemplary contributions to their communities and profession in 2021. All Virginia Library Association award winners will be honored at the Awards Celebration on Wednesday evening, October 19, 2022, at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, in conjunction with the VLA Annual Conference. For more information about this event, see our conference website. For details about each winner and their accomplishments, please view the press releases linked below:

Donna G. Cote Librarian of the Year

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce that Dana Bomba of Chesterfield County Public Library has been chosen for the 2022 Donna G. Cote Librarian of the Year Award. The Donna G. Cote Librarian of the Year Award recognizes exemplary achievement of a working Virginia librarian who has made a significant contribution(s) at any level of librarianship during the current year. Dana was chosen for the award because of her commitment to professional development, her role in the 2021 ILS integration, and the ability to think outside
the box with community outreach opportunities.

Dana Bomba is an experienced branch manager at Chesterfield County Public Library. She is driven to create connections with her community and takes pride in providing personalized service to every customer. 

In addition to her primary job functions, Dana looks for new ways to contribute to both the library system and her community.  Most recently, Dana served on a team to launch a new ILS and then oversaw the writing of a new, comprehensive circulation desk manual for front-line staff. In the fall of 2021, she hosted a community-focused job fair and a holiday toy drive for families in need. Dana also shares her knowledge of library services and management practices with other professionals through webinars and presentations on performance management, networking, and outreach. Most notably, in 2021 she co-presented Speak Up! Responding to Uncomfortable Situations in the Library empowering hundreds of library professionals to use their voice to advocate for themselves during undesired interactions. 

Friends of the Library Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce that the Friends of the Williamsburg County Library (WCL) Foundation have been chosen for the 2022 Friends of the Library Award. This award is presented to a Friends of the Library group in recognition of distinguished service to libraries in Virginia. The Friends of the WCL Foundation is deserving of this year’s VLA Friends of the Library Award for their outstanding ability to increase services, programs, and both digital and print collections through fundraising and advocacy.

In 2021, Friends of the WCL Foundation raised more than $335,000 through individual and business donors and book sales resulting in $219,000 given to WCL for collections, programs, and services. Because of the Friends support, more than 20 programs were offered in 2021. In addition, the Foundation approved a $30,000 disbursement from their endowment to increase WCL's digital collection. 

As the nomination stated:

The Friends of Williamsburg Regional Library Foundation is the key difference between WRL being a good library and being a great one. The decades of commitment from the Friends is not only a testament to how much the community loves the library, but also to the heart and passion each Friend of the Library has for the community.

George Mason Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce that the Babak Zarin of Central Rappahannock Regional Library (CRRL) has been chosen for the 2022 George Mason Award. This award recognizes individuals, libraries, or other organizations distinguished for advocacy of libraries and/or information access. Babak was selected for his dedication to his work at CRRL and improving accessibility and inclusion for all.

"CRRL's Access Services has been transformed under Babak's leadership," according to the nomination form. Babak expanded the department to include all forms of accessibility, developed and performed an accessibility audit for the library system, and has shared what he's learned both internally and with other library systems.

Babak administers the Fredericksburg Subregional Library for the Blind and Print Disabled (AKA the Talking Books Library) and helps to offer accessible programming. A member of the 2018-2019 ALA Spectrum Scholar cohort, and 2021 winner of the Virginia Library Association's Up and Comer Award, his research interests include fandom studies and how library services can adapt to today's pluralistic information seekers.

Librarian of Color Forum Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce that Wilma Andrade of Fairfax County Public Library has been chosen for the 2022 Librarian of Color Forum Award. This award recognizes librarians and library staff of color serving in a library in Virginia that exhibit excellence in service to libraries and communities of color as well as conducted outreach or develop programming that encourages engagement or removed barriers to library information and services. Wilma was chosen for this award for exhibiting excellence in service to local communities of color through outreach and programming.

Wilma used her experiences from when she moved to the United States from India and the struggles and frustrations many immigrants face with learning a new language and culture to connect to the local Fairfax community. This outreach to second language learners became a passion for Wilma, and she developed an English Language and US Citizenship program. During the pandemic, Wilma began offering virtual programs which continued after the library's services reopening. Using both virtual and face-to-face instruction, Wilma is able to offer English Language Learners programing to more than 400 people per month. Wilma searches for community instructors to offer a wide-range of programing including formalized instruction to reading groups and conversation sessions. 

Wilma also has a passion to celebrate all the cultures that make up Fairfax County’s diverse population and has developed many programs and festivals to educate and expose the community to various celebrations like Ramadan, Diwali, and Lunar New Year.

As Wilma's nomination states:

Wilma’s work is a wonderful example of how one person a passion to help her community can have a profound impact on removing barriers between people of color and library information and services. 

Outstanding Professional Associates Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce that Sylvia Enriquez of the Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) has been chosen for the 2022 Outstanding Professional Associates Award. This award recognizes a library associate who advances and strengthens the image of Professional Associates as well as fosters communication among library employees throughout the Commonwealth. Sylvia was chosen because of her involvement in improving the Spanish language collection(s) in FCPL and creating a core digital Spanish language collection for adults and youth. As a result of these projects, FCPL experienced a 46 percent increase in usage of these collections.

In 2021 and in collaboration with the FCPL's Youth Selector, Sylvia reviewed thousands of Spanish language materials. This, along with additional financial support, current county demographics, and Sylvia's advocacy, resulted in the creation of a Spanish Young Adult collection.

Sylvia is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science degree. She has worked for Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) for 27 years and is currently a Youth Selection and Spanish Language Information Assistant. 

Public Library Innovator Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce Jessica Chatham of Chesapeake Public Library has been chosen for the 2022 Public Library Innovator Award. This award recognizes public librarians or public library project teams who have made an outstanding contribution to advance the mission of a public library in Virginia through an innovative project, program or service during the nomination period. Jessica was chosen for leading a team providing services to the 50 youth in the City of Chesapeake's Juvenile Detention Center. Services include monthly STEAM class learning activity; Read for a Reason, a summer reading program; book discussions; and instruction on job skills/employment. 

Jessica and her team facilitated providing the youth in the city's Detention Center with more access to books and activities to help improve reading proficiency. Juveniles interested in the reading program are automatically enrolled in the program by the Detention Center staff who also help them register for a library card which the youth keep upon release. Youth enrolled in the program receive books of their choice and through a grant also receive a free book of their choice upon their release. In addition, Jessica and her team provide programs such as coding with Sphero robots which, in turn, improves the outlook of those incarcerated. 

Jessica has worked for the Chesapeake Public Library system for 18 years. She has a passion for working with incarcerated individuals, particularly teens. Jessica says the most rewarding part of her job is mentoring other staff and watching them achieve their goals. When not at work, she is either spending time with her family or training for her next marathon.

Trustee Library Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce Margaret "Dale" Harell, Chesapeake Public Library Board Member, has been chosen for the 2022 Trustee Library Award. This award recognizes the distinguished service to libraries or a library in Virginia. Dale was selected for the award because of her decades-long service to libraries. Dale began serving on the Chesapeake Public Library Board in the early 1990s. She has worked with five different library directors and has served in a variety of roles including liaison to several library branches, vice-chairman of the Board, and chairman of the Board. 

Dale is a life-long supporter of the love of reading and of literacy. She's seen many changes in the library from how patrons access information to the role libraries play in the community. She first began working within the library because she and her husband had two small children, and she didn't want to be a teacher. She always intended to return to her field of counseling, but loved the library so much, she never wanted to leave.

Dale's nomination describes her as the library's best cheerleader. The nominations continues with, "She might best described as diplomatic. Dale’s father was president of the American University in Beirut, and she credits his words, 'Everybody smiles in the same language' as influencing her approach to people and to service on the Chesapeake Public Library Board."

The Up and Comer Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce Olivia Hasan of Hampton Public Library has been chosen for the 2022 Up and Comer Award. This award recognizes an energetic librarian, with less than five years of professional experience, who pushes the boundaries of originality and creativity and expands the role of librarian with forward-thinking efforts that help move libraries into the future. Olivia was selected for this award because of her innovative programing and local community events that inspire and elevate community members.

Olivia is the Children's Librarian at the Hampton Public Library as well as the Chair for the Virginia Library Association Librarians of Color Forum. She has developed programs, events, and training opportunities for her local community, librarians and library staff of color, and for the library field across the state. She was recently selected as the 2021 Library Fellow for the West African Research Association, where she traveled to Dakar, Senegal, West Africa for two months.

Virginia Library of the Year Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce Jefferson-Madison Regional Library has been chosen for the 2022 Virginia Library of the Year Award. This award recognizes a Virginia library (public, academic, or special), library system, or library network for distinguished achievement in service. Jefferson-Madison Regional Library (JMRL) was chosen as Virginia Library of the Year in large part for the way they celebrated and honored their 100 years of public library service, while acknowledging the roots of that century of service were in a segregated system which didn't serve non-white community members. To accomplish this, JMRL created two projects.

JMRL, in partnership with the Albermarle Charlottesville Historical Society, developed a semi-permanent display for the Central Library to showcase the 100-year of public libraries in the area. For the second project, JMRL worked with local filmmaker Lorenzo Dickerson to create a documentary about 100 years of library service, called "Free and Open." The film premiered on the big screen at the historic Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville in October 2021. The film is also available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCJqlI7_H3k.

As stated on the nomination form:

JMRL was able to tell a complete story between these two projects. The organization could celebrate the mission and values of free and open access to information, while the institution could look back at its roots and acknowledge that the lack of access to information for Black families during segregation was just as much an attempt to prevent upward social mobility as school segregation, redlining, and other Jim Crow tactics.

VLA Professional Associates Forum Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce Darlene Perry of Richmond Public Library has been chosen for the 2022 VLA Professional Associates Forum Award. The VLA Professional Associates Forum Award (formerly known as the VLA Paraprofessionals Forum Award) was established in 1995 through the generosity of Evelyn Kimball, a retired library paraprofessional who recognizes the value of support staff development. Awarded annually, the VLA Professional Associates Forum award provides full conference fees to the recipient. Darlene was selected because of her more than 30-year dedication to the profession, willingness to go above and beyond in her position, and her "generous and authentically kind spirit to every interaction."

Darlene is currently a Senior Library Technician for the Richmond Public Library (RPL). She has served at multiple branches in a variety of roles during her 34-year career with RPL. She's eager to learn new skills and best practices to share with her colleagues. She has studied at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Strayer University, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in business administration at Southern New Hampshire University.

The VLAPAF Supporter of Professional Associates Award

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) is pleased to announce Stephanie Wiggins of Loudoun County Public Library has been chosen for the 2022 VLAPAF (VLA Professional Associates Forum) Supporter of Professional Associates Award. The VLAPAF Supporter of the Year Award (formerly known as the VLAPAF Supporter of Paraprofessionals Award) was established in 1996 as a means of recognizing an individual who has provided significant support to their staff and who has been a champion for library support staff in Virginia libraries. Stephanie was selected because of her dedication to work and advocacy for staff – not only for fair compensation but also safety, fair distribution of work, and career development.

Stephanie is currently the Head of Circulation for Cascades Library in the Loudoun County Public Library system. In her four years with LCPL, she has been instrumental in standardizing and documenting Library processes and procedures to improve consistency and efficiency system wide. She has created well-received training programs to educate and empower staff when dealing with patron issues and crisis situations. Stephanie takes an active role in onboarding new-hires and substitute staff, and purposefully mentors her staff through the challenges of a fast-changing work environment. Prior to working for LCPL, Stephanie has held several management positions. Stephanie believes that the key to success is to ensure that both patrons and staff have a voice in the decisions that impact them and that their voice is being heard and valued.

In order to celebrate the accomplishments of those who support and transform libraries throughout the Commonwealth, the Virginia Library Association, through the hard work of the Awards and Recognition Committee, offers a number of awards. Visit our VLA Awards page for more information about all of our awards.

Last Updated on Wednesday, September 07, 2022 01:06 PM