2021 Personality of the Year Finalist: Library resists controversy for the good of the LGBTQ + community | News, Sports, Jobs
June, as many know from the rainbows over just about everything in stores this month, is LGTBQ + Pride Month. But for the James V. Brown Library in 2021, it wasn’t a pot of gold at the end of their Rainbow Exhibit, but a controversy they resisted, earning him a nomination for person of the year.
âOne of the lessons we learned this summer during the public censorship challenge was that we need to create opportunities as a community to speak peacefully and respectfully with each other on important topics that affect everyone.â , said Barbara McGary, executive director of the library.
âAs a library we need to create more opportunities to share the importance of why we do what we do for the community, our core values ââand our essential role in democracy as we provide diverse resources on a variety of perspectives that offer citizens of a free society the opportunity to remain independent, critical and responsible human beings who choose to live in peace with one another. “
The library features many themes in its adult and children’s sections throughout the year, and the LGBTQ + section has been around for at least 10 years. This year, however, it drew criticism from Lycoming County Commissioners Tony Mussare and Scott Metzger.
Mussare previously told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette that he asked McGary to remove the display from the children’s library. When the postings didn’t change, families turned to McGary to tell them how it affected them.
âOne of the most important trainings that I personally received was knowing the needs of families in our communityâ she said. âI was touched by the stories shared with me by people from all over this community who had young children who identify as LGBTQ + and how much they suffer when others don’t take the time to consider them. as human beings worthy of respect, dignity and opportunity.
McGary listened to stories every day for several weeks from community members who were grateful for the resources, programs and services provided by the library, she said.
“I was in awe of our library and all it does to improve the lives of people in our community” McGary said.
“All children deserve to have a vibrant collection of mirror books and window books to choose from in their public library” said children’s librarian Nina White. âMirror books reflect the life and culture of a child, nurturing value and respect through identification and their experiences. Window books offer children the opportunity to see the world beyond their homes, laying the groundwork for an empathetic society.
For Aimee Lindauer, public service assistant, the community is made up of so many universes.
âHaving a place where everyone can come together peacefully, for the sole purpose of celebrating knowledge, means everything to some of these children and families. “ Lindauer said. âWhen children walk through doors and the first thing that leaves their mouths is an exclamation of wonder, it’s hard not to remember the vital role books play in our daily lives. Being able to find something that represents “you” in this vast ocean of “everyone” makes the world a little more manageable. “
And that’s just one of the reasons the James V. Brown Library was chosen as the 2021 Library of the Year in Pennsylvania.
Four points are taken into account when choosing the winner: service to the public or university community, promotion of staff development, innovation in a special project, partnership or challenge overcome and leadership and support for the activities of the Association, such as the Pennsylvania Library Association Academy of Leadership Studies and the PA Forward Initiative, and according to Christi Buker, executive director of the Pennsylvania Library Association.
“So why was James V. Brown chosen?” “ said Buker. âThe James V. Brown is a shining example of excellence in the library community. (McGary) is the Pennsylvania Councilor Representative to the American Library Association (ALA). She is a dedicated and passionate library leader in local, state and national service, and inspires all James V. Brown staff to do their best for their local community and for the community. Pennsylvania as a whole.
Recent examples of leadership and staff innovation include Dana Brigandi, director of development, marketing and programming, who was elected president of the 2020 chapter of the western branch, and Nina White, director of services at the youth, selected to be a speaker at the Pennsylvania Library Association’s annual conference in 2021. Conference, she says.
“Certainly, the censorship challenge presented in June over a display of pride was concerning on several fronts,” said Buker. âThe James V. Brown has worked tirelessly to uphold the core values ââthat libraries are a welcoming place for everyone, providing materials and access to information for the entire community, according to professional standards. of Intellectual Freedom and the ALA Library Charter of Rights, and now open and respectful communications with the community.
As a PA Forward Gold Star library, the library has maintained a constant focus and dedication to high quality library services with particular attention to their community, she said.
“The Library of the Year 2021 award recognizes the comprehensive and compelling accomplishments of the James V. Brown Library, Board of Trustees and staff, especially in the face of censorship and funding challenges,” said Buker. âThey are an inspiration to Commonwealth libraries and well deserve this statewide recognition. “
However, the library is more than just a collection of exhibits.
“The library is an exceptional organization that improves the lives of our residents”, said Brigandi. âThe library is more than just a downtown building; We are the heart of this community, and we work hard to form partnerships and reach as many people as possible to share the love of reading and establish an appreciation for lifelong learning.
It’s not just located in the brick building on East Fourth Street.
“We’re in the community with programs at local parks, Lycoming County Sensory Garden, SPCA, Farmers’ Market, Food Bank and more” said Brigandi. âWe bring library service to where people are in many ways, including our beloved Storymobile who visits early learning facilities. “
Another way the library has helped the community this year is by going “free good” in January, which McGary called “the happiest”.
“The decision to eliminate overdue fines for library materials was essential in our efforts to reduce the poverty disparity by removing financial barriers that prevented the poorest in our community from using needed resources,” she said. “It was a financial sacrifice for a significant and essential community impact and one that we were grateful to be able to make.”
This commitment to the people of the community continued into September during National Library Pay-Per-View Month, when the library waived DVD borrowing fees, so all library resources could be borrowed free of charge.
âThis decision was made in collaboration with our remarkable front-line public service staff, whose intelligence is matched only by their empathy, compassion and commitment to this community. McGary said.
Award-winning librarians hold important leadership positions within the Association of State Libraries as well as the National Association.
“Our service to statewide committees, board of directors and national councils enables us to share professional ideas and practices beyond the borders of Lycoming County.” McGary said. âOur professional librarians are known and recognized for their best practices and expertise across the state and our great nation.â
It’s both people and governance that make an organization great, she said.
“The Board of Trustees of the James V. Brown Library is a unique and remarkable group of people” McGary said. “Each of them is a leader in their own right.”
Its board of directors includes the superintendent of the Williamsport area school district, the mayor of Williamsport, local business owners, the Reverend of Christ’s Church, opinion leaders, former teachers, parents and residents. friends, she said.
âAlong with our Board of Directors, the people behind the services – our amazing staff – are community members who give their creativity, imagination, hard work and ingenuity to connect with the families they serve each and every. day “ McGary said. âWe are an organization committed to lifelong learning by researching and developing new ways of knowing more about our community in order to develop programs and services where everyone, as our mission indicates, can go to learn, connect and grow. “
And there has been a lot of learning, connection and growth this year.
“The James V. Brown Library is extremely grateful for the lessons, joys and opportunities of serving our community in 2021” McGary said.