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Georgia Public Library Service announces annual library awards

GPLS News, January 2017

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Georgia Public Library Service announces annual library awards
Director Richard Sanders with staff of Hart County Library, Georgia’s Public Library of the Year.

ATLANTA — On Jan. 7, Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) will honor the Hart County Library as Georgia’s Public Library of the Year. The award is one of three annual Georgia Public Library Awards, honoring the outstanding service and achievements of Georgia’s public libraries, librarians and advocates during the past year.

Later this month, GPLS will honor Jennifer Lautzenheiser, director of the Middle Georgia Regional Library System, as Public Librarian of the Year and New York Times-best-selling author Karin Slaughter as Public Library Champion of the Year.

“We are so pleased to bring this well-deserved recognition to our colleagues throughout the state who have worked tirelessly to serve their communities and play a vital role in creating a more educated, enlightened Georgia,” said State Librarian Julie Walker.

“Georgia’s library awards program debuted in 2015 and proved to be a remarkable success,” she said. “Community leaders, local and state elected officials, and countless library users celebrated the inaugural winners, creating tremendous awareness, goodwill and renewed support for public libraries across Georgia.”

The Public Library of the Year award, presented to the library whose staff best exemplifies the qualities needed to positively impact the lives of residents in the communities it serves, will be presented to the Hart County Library and its employees at a 3 p.m. ceremony at the library this Saturday.

“I couldn’t be prouder for Hart County Library to be the recipient of this award,” said Director Richard Sanders. “We’re not a big place, but we have people working here who enjoy what they do, who genuinely enjoy working together and who enjoy doing their best to serve our community every day. We’re grateful to our always-supportive library board and to our local funding agencies and elected officials who support the library and want to keep it going and continuing to provide more and better services.

“And I’d like to extend a very sincere thank-you to the folks who believed in us enough to nominate us, to write letters for us and to recommend us for this award.”

The Public Librarian of the Year award recognizes a full-time and professionally licensed public librarian whose innovative and creative talents are instrumental in the delivery of outstanding library service to his or her library and to the communities it serves. Jennifer Lautzenheiser will receive the award at a ceremony to be held at 2 p.m. on Jan. 12 at the Middle Georgia Regional Library in Macon. “What an incredible surprise and honor this is,” said Lautzenheiser. “As a new library director, it is quite unexpected but greatly appreciated.

“Our library system is dedicated to connecting community members with the information necessary to improve their lives, whether that is through access to credible information, technology literacy, cultural heritage or recreation,” she explained. “Change can be hard, and we’ve seen a lot of it in our community and in our library system. We appreciate the flexibility and patience given to us by so many residents as we strive to redefine library service to Middle Georgia and provide a sustainable effort of dedicated service and community building in the years to come.”

Georgia’s Public Library Champion of the Year award is presented to an outstanding advocate who was not employed in any capacity by a public library but whose support significantly raised the profile of libraries and improved services during the year. The award will be presented to Karin Slaughter, whose 16 novels have sold more than 35 million copies across the globe, at a 6:30 p.m. reception Jan. 19 at the Decatur library.

“Libraries are the backbone of our educational infrastructure, and I want more people to realize they are necessities, not luxuries,” Slaughter stated. “As a writer and a reader, I feel it is my duty to support our public libraries, so I am very humbled to be recognized as a library champion."

A tireless advocate for public libraries, Slaughter is the founder of Save the Libraries and has devoted her time and talent to support the DeKalb County Public Library, the Cobb County Public Library System and the Georgia Center For the Book. She has hosted fundraisers — enlisting the help of Grammy Award-winning folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls for one such event — and donated her own time and money to support the causes of both the Georgia Center For the Book and the DeKalb Library Foundation. Through her leadership and shining example, she also raised awareness and funds for the Save the Libraries movement across the state and country.

Nominations for this year’s GPLS-sponsored awards were submitted from public library directors and trustees, members of recognized Friends of the Library groups and GPLS staff members. Collectively, GPLS received more than three dozen nominations from every corner of the state.

In addition to the individual presentation events, this year’s winners will be recognized at a public ceremony during the Georgia Council for Public Libraries’ annual Public Library Day at the Capitol on Feb. 8.