Winners of the Library Awards for Innovation Announced

On January 20, at the Penguin Random House Librarian Reception at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, the Penguin Random House (PRH) Foundation will be announcing the recipients of its inaugural Library Awards for Innovation. The awards honor library programming that strengthens the community while fostering reading, with both marnerthe library and the librarian behind the programming acknowledged.

“Never has there been a more important time to encourage, support, and value the impact that librarians have in our society,” says Skip Dye, VP, academic marketing & library sales, PRH. “These librarians, in fact all librarians, are doing their part to transform their communities while strengthening the social and cultural fabric of our world.”

The awards include one $10,000 first-place grant, six $1,000 runner-up grants, and one book grant award for each library, all meant to support continued programming. In addition, winners receive book donations of their choice for their libraries. PRH is also covering conference registration, travel, and lodging expenses for the first-place winner, Kay Marner (pictured), project coordinator, Ames Public Library, IA. Marner was chosen for “Small Talk Story County,” a collaboration among the library, Iowa State University, and local nonprofit Raising Readers in Story County.

The program addresses early childhood literacy, and in fact Ames was one of only two public libraries in the country to test community-based programming aimed at teaching parents how to facilitate the language development of children three and under. Says Melanie Fallon-Houska, director, corporate giving and corporate communications, PRH, “Marner and her team embodied the spirit of the Library Innovation Awards and their focus on collaboration in service to local communities.”

Runners-up include Janet Brown, library services representative, Windsor Public Library, Ont., for “Library Live! Teen Leader/Mentor Program”; Syntychia Kendrick-Samuel, head of teen services, Uniondale Public Library, NY, and a 2016 LJ Mover & Shaker, for “UPL Empowerment Academy for Teens”; Jessica Link, volunteer coordinator, Cedar Rapids Public Library, IA, for “Summer Dare Everywhere”; Keenon McCloy, director, Memphis Public Library & Information Center, for “CLOUD 901 Teen Learning Lab”; Linda Osuna, CEO manager, Hillsboro Public Library, OR, for “Community Engagement & Outreach”; and Tracy Green, director of development, Louisville Free Public Library, KY, for “Innovative, Inclusive and Impactful Partnerships.”

In addition, Jerry Szpila, manager, Ferry Avenue Branch, Camden County Library System, NJ, was awarded a special grant of $1,000 in PRH books to support Cooper Rowan Medical School Tutor Time. In this program, students from the medical school work with children and teens from the Centerville area of Camden, one of the poorest cities in the country.

With the awards, says Fallon-Houska, PRH means to expand its role “as a cultural institution that serves society beyond the books we publish. We wanted to provide support and incentive for libraries thinking outside the box.” The awards, to be held biennially, are by self-nomination, with this first round bringing 51 applicants altogether. The judges were Dye; Fallon-Houska; Jennifer Childs, VP, library marketing, PRH; Cheryl Herman, director of marketing, Digital Publishing Group, PRH; and Rebecca T. Miller, editorial director, LJ & School Library Journal. Applications for the next round are available at and are due April 15, 2018.



Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.