State Librarian's UNcheon & Award Ceremony

12:15 PM CT-2:00 PM CT

Eric Norris, Kansas State Librarian, is a native Kansan who received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, MA from Fort Hays State University, and MLS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Prior to joining the State Library in 2018, he served as the Adult Department Librarian and Director of the Hays Public Library.  He has also worked as a Director of Human Resources and a newspaper reporter.

KLA Presidential Awards

New Professional Award

The KLA New Professional Award recognizes distinguished service to librarians who earned a professional degree within the last five years and are employed in library service. Our award this year is presented to Addison Lucchi, Instructional and Research Librarian at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. Addison obtained his MLIS from Simmons College in 2017, an MBA from MidAmerica Nazarene University in 2019, and is working on a PhD in Educational Leadership and English (Interdisciplinary Studies) at UMKC. Some of Addison’s accomplishments include obtaining a grant from Humanities Kansas, “Resilience Through Story.” Innovations include distance library services, digital information literacy learning modules, storytelling and board game outreach, and numerous publications and presentations.

Library Personnel Award

The Library Personnel Award this year is presented to Carolyn Olsen of the Horton Public Library. This category awards distinguished service from employees currently in or recently retired from library service. Mrs. Olsen’s nominator, Jessica Ray Buhrman, said that Carolyn, besides being an exemplary and supportive retired employee, is a generous donor of funds and time, and is a pillar in forwarding literary education and enjoyment to the youth of the small community of Horton. Many citizens of Horton wrote testimonials praising Mrs. Olsen for her long-term commitment to the community, kindness, and generosity. Carolyn has recently retired from the Horton Public Library after 22 years of service (not counting many previous years as a teacher).

Library Advocate Award

The KLA Library Advocate Award is presented to Clarice Hostetler, of Dodge City, Kansas. This award recognizes distinguished service to the Kansas library community by someone not employed in library service. Clarice’s work with the Friends of Dodge City Public Library was noted by her nominator, Eve Wayman, who specifically mentioned Clarice as an advocate for the use of the library and its various resources. The Friends group is very active in support of the Dodge City Public Library through book sales and other activities staffed by volunteers to support the Library.

Meritorious Service Award

Our Meritorious Service Award this year is presented to Carol Barta, currently of the North Central Kansas Library System. This award is presented to those who have provided exemplary, sustained service, and as a testimony to Carol’s long service to libraries in Kansas, several people nominated her for this award! Shannon Reid-Wheat said, “Carol is and has been a tireless advocate for libraries in Kansas. Her leadership and knowledge in NCKL have benefited countless librarians for many years. For myself, I have always been able to count on Carol for assistance and guidance. She will be greatly missed!” In the words of another nominator, Sandra Wilkerson, “Carol has a long career of service in Kansas libraries and has been very active in the KLA organization. She is a tireless supporter of small Kansas libraries and rural librarians. Carol would be very deserving of this honor.” Furthermore, Denise Coon had these words for Carol: “She won the Duane Johnson award in 2015. She is passionate about small libraries. She is involved in Legislative Day every year. She goes above and beyond to answer phone calls and emails…even after hours.” Carol has served in many libraries across the region, including St. Mary’s University (Leavenworth), Avila College (Kansas City, MO), Barton County Community College, USD 395 LaCrosse, the Northwest Kansas Library System, and the North Central Kansas Library System. Carol’s experience has spanned all types of libraries and communities and throughout all, her support and contributions to KLA has been unwavering. She was the KLA Chapter Councilor to ALA from 2002-2006 and chaired the ALA committee on Rural, Native and Tribal Libraries from 2006-2008, and has served on numerous committees in KLA over the years. Thank you from all of us, Carol, and best wishes on your retirement.

Best Small Library in Kansas–Sponsored by Auto-Graphics

Small libraries have many challenges as they provide services and resources to their communities. In 2020, these challenges have been compounded and magnified by the effects of the pandemic. Small libraries in Kansas have been rising to these challenges, in true Kansas fashion of “Ad Astra per Aspera” (To the Stars through Difficulties) with absolutely stellar results. The Awards Committee commends all the libraries that were nominated for the award this year for innovation, imagination, and true commitment to their communities. The Committee is pleased to award the Atwood Public Library, Atwood, Kansas, as the Best Small Library for 2020. Grace Kastens is the Director of the library, with two additional part time staff members, serving a community of 2,500 people in Rawlins County.

The Around the World Book Club has been a new feature in the library starting at the beginning of the 2020 year. Thanks to a grant from Midwest Energy the library purchased a year’s subscription to Universal Yums, a company that mails monthly snack boxes each based in a different country. Using that as a guideline, book selections were made set in that particular country, using inter-library loan to have the needed copies on hand for participants. Book discussions and snacks are enjoyed at monthly meetings, and patrons who have participated have offered wonderful positive feedback about the program.

A permanent StoryWalk, installed around the Lake Atwood walking path, was a monumental undertaking, including planning and installing signage, working with the township board, obtaining a grant from the Dane G. Hansen foundation for costs, and finding sponsorships to support the cost of changing out the stories regularly, including updating the signs and purchasing books. Sponsors have stepped up as a way to support early literacy. The StoryWalk became even more important to the community while the library was shut down due to Covid, providing a safe outdoor environment to promote literacy, with continued support from local teachers and civics groups. The StoryWalk is an excellent example of how a library can expand beyond its four walls in a community.

The Smart Seniors program at the Atwood Public Library, in partnership with the local K-State Extension Agency, has brought programming to the senior population in the community. This program included a series of classes designed to help the 65+ age group to become more familiar and comfortable with technology, more specifically smart phones.

KASL Awards

President’s Distinguished School Librarian Award

To recognize an individual working in a school district of the library media profession who has developed an outstanding library media program for his/her district and has made an outstanding contribution to school librarianship and school library media development in Kansas.

2020 Recipient–Alice Reinert

Vision Award

To recognize individuals in or out of the profession who have contributed to the vision of Kansas school libraries. 

2020 Recipient–George Seamon