Find out how Texas libraries and librarians make our communities better places to live every day!
The Texas Library Association (TLA) has announced the winners of their 2021 awards.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Sharon Amastae
Sharon Amastae, retired librarian, library advocate, and former president of the TLA, was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from TLA.
Amastae served as an TLA executive board member and American Library Association councilor from 2003-2006. She was president of TLA from 2014-2015. As a middle school librarian at Camino Real Middle School in El Paso from 1989-2012, she assumed leadership positions on different campus committees offering her perspective and her expertise. Amastae is a dedicated community volunteer, working with immigrants, food distribution, and emergency shelters.
Librarian of the Year Award: Manya Shorr
Manya Shorr, director of the Fort Worth Public Library (FWPL), received the Librarian of the Year Award.
In February 2020, Shorr traveled to Austin to advocate for libraries to legislators. In August 2020, the new Golden Triangle branch of FWPL opened. She also oversaw a large-scale project called “Amplify 817” that launched in 2020. Much of what made Shorr stand out last year was her library’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within days of closing their doors due to stay-at-home orders, FWPL began streaming library programming. Early on, she began an initiative that had library staff calling senior-citizen cardholders to check on them and to help refer them to social services. She oversaw a city-wide PPE drive using library branches as drop-off locations. Librarians gathered more than one thousand masks that were distributed to city employees.
Distinguished Service Award: Ana Cleveland
Dr. Ana D. Cleveland, Regents Professor in the Department of Information Science at the University of North Texas, was recognized with the TLA’s Distinguished Service Award.
Cleveland has been a leader in library and information sciences (LIS) education for over forty years. She began her career in Texas at Texas Woman’s University School of Library & Information Studies in 1977 and moved to the University of North Texas (UNT) Department of Information Science in 1988. Throughout her career as a LIS educator, she has focused her efforts on recruiting and educating diverse individuals to all aspects of the profession. Her visionary approach has led to innovation in the education of librarians.
Distinguished Service Award: Ted Wanner
Ted Wanner, recently retired from his longtime position as Director of Education and Member Services for the TLA, was recognized with TLA’s Distinguished Service Award.
Tanner was an excellent representative for TLA and is loyal, supportive, and positive, exemplifying the values of the library profession. He is an excellent advocate for the profession in the broadest sense, but also worked tirelessly as an advocate for every corner of Texas–supporting and working for all Texas districts and for any size and type of library and for all levels of library employees.
Libraries Change Communities Award: Alief ISD
The Alief Independent School District won the TLA’s Libraries Change Communities Award for their years-long, comprehensive project “Innovating Inside the Box: Transforming the Literacy Culture of Alief by Ensuring Equitable Access.”
The library department saw the need to provide equitable access across all the school district’s libraries and took significant steps to make improvements. Recognizing that some campuses did not have access to the most recent books, librarians began sharing these resources between campuses. The district infused money for campus MakerSpaces based on prior campus-based funding, so the campuses that had the lowest building budget would receive the highest district allotment. District funds were used to equitably help campuses purchase e-books, attend author visits, attend book festivals, and purchase books for students to read prior to participating in book competitions.
During the 2018-2019 school year, over 25,000 books were given to students for their home libraries. During the pandemic, librarians launched curbside delivery of books, hotspots, laptops, and tablets; delivered items to apartment complexes, and stocked official and unofficial Little Free Libraries throughout the community so patrons would have access to physical books in a safe manner.
Benefactor Award: Cathy Hartman
Cathy Hartman received the annual Benefactor Award from the TLA in recognition of her generous support of the Cathy Nelson Hartman Portal to Texas History Endowment.
Since its inception, Hartman has donated over $100,000 to the endowment and she and her husband, Walter, made an irrevocable planned gift to the endowment of nearly their entire estate. Hartman is a long-time, active member of TLA, and spent the last twenty years of her career at the UNT Libraries.
Wayne Williams Project of the Year Award: Tom Green County Library
Tom Green County Library in San Angelo was awarded the TLA’s Wayne Williams Project of the Year Award for “Creating Accessible Children’s Libraries: Touching Lives with Books.”
In this project, the library led the charge to create two beautifully decorated and well-stocked library rooms at the two Boys and Girls Clubs in San Angelo, located in underprivileged parts of the city. Although both centers had children’s libraries, the library collections and even the rooms themselves had fallen into disrepair. Library staff, led by Tom Green County Library Director Jill Donegan, scoured the library for spare furniture and shelving. Children’s librarian, Sally Meyers, began gathering a diverse book collection which would enable every child to find him or herself in a book.