Berks County Public Libraries hosted its 18th annual award ceremony in January to celebrate the innovation, leadership, and service to libraries.

The BCPL Board of Directors selected recipients based on their outstanding merits and contributions to Berks County libraries. Among nominees from libraries and local businesses, 12 were awarded.

Kutztown

Barbara Stolz of the Kutztown Community Library receiving the Linda Baer Friend of the Year Award, which recognizes the significant and substantial commitment of time, energy and creativity from a single member of a local library. Along with the award, there is a $100 cash prize sponsored by the Friends of BCPL.

Stolz volunteered more than 20 years and served as the Treasurer of the Friends of the Library. She took pride in planning for Kutztown Library events, donating money to provide art books for young patrons, and shelving books. Though she stepped down as a volunteer in October 2019, her dedication and continued involvement is recognized by many in the community.

Kutztown Library also received the Chet Hagan Memorial Public Relations Award, which is presented to a library that demonstrates excellent sustained public relation activities throughout the year. The System Board and the Friends of BCPL together sponsored a $500 prize along with the award. Kutztown Library couldn’t have won without its impressive annual scrapbook, assembled by staff member Mackenzie Keller. Over the course of 2019, the scrapbook showcases how the library reached its goals, including partnering with Kutztown University’s Professional Writing department, seeking grants for programs like Teen Reading Lounge, and achieving PA Forward Gold Star Library status. The yearlong project also documented Summer Quest, the library’s 70th anniversary open house, newspaper articles written about KCL by interns and outside sources, and other promotional material organized by month.

Bethel-Tulpehocken

The Summer Reading Carnival of the Bethel-Tulpehocken Public Library received Outstanding Fundraising Effort, which recognizes a onetime or ongoing fundraising project that is especially creative or unique. In 2014, children’s librarian Betsy Kreider came up with the idea of a carnival to reward children’s reading, exchanging reading tickets for cotton candy, games, and prizes. Raising more than $5,000 in 2019, Bethel-Tulpe Library created community engagement that both children and adults love.

Exeter

Mallory Hoffman, director of the Exeter Community Library, received Outstanding Library Director, which is presented to a member library director who fosters cooperation and collaboration among member libraries, shares time and talent with other libraries of county-wide initiatives, and has an effective and resourceful impact on the community. Celebrating her 10th year at Exeter Library, Hoffman has built connections with the Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks’ Literatour Berks author series, empowered top-notch services between the Friends of the Library and the Board of Trustees, and regularly volunteered on BCPL System committees.

Boyertown

Lisa Rand of Boyertown Community Library was awarded a Certificate of Merit for her writing and research. She published articles in library blogs, journals, and magazines. In 2019, she became the local chapter representative for PaLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and an Intellectual Freedom Blogger for the American Library Association.

Mifflin

Patti Hutchinson of Mifflin Community Library received Outstanding Library Staff Member which is presented to a staff member at a member library who demonstrates exemplary library service and has an effective and resourceful impact on the community. A staff member since 2003, Hutchinson created Thursday Family Story Time, an evening reading event dedicated to working parents and their children. She also assisted patrons and processed donated items to the library. Though she is stepping down after 16 years of service, she remains a valued member for her community.

Berks

The BCPL Board of Trustees recognized the Berkshire Mall as the Outstanding Local Business for their contributions to the annual Book Bonanza fundraiser. The award is presented to a local business or local office of a regional, state, or national corporation in recognition of its support of public library services. In July 2018 and July 2019, the mall provided retail space for the gently-used book sale, helping the Friends of BCPL and the American Association of University Women raise $100,000 for public library support and scholarship awards. The Berkshire Mall continues to generously partner with local libraries and help give back to its community.

Jennifer Smilko of BCPL was presented a Certificate of Merit for her volunteer and public relations work. As the treasurer of both Friends of BCPL and Book Bonanza, her continued leadership, reliability, and organization shined, especially during years of dwindling membership and loss of officers.

Muhlenberg

Rep. Mark Rozzi, nominated by Muhlenberg Community Library, received Outstanding Elected Official, an award that recognizes an elected official at any level for outstanding support of library services. Rozzi assisted the library in obtaining a $50,000 Keystone Communities grant to renovate damaged front doors and provide storage in a wall-to-wall closet and new carpeting and paint. MCL uses the improvements to plan programming events and fundraisers.

Reading

Maureen Dolan of the Reading Public Library received Trustee of the Year, which is presented to a public library trustee in recognition of outstanding leadership of a System Library. A Reading Library Board member since 2015, Dolan has enthusiastically offered her construction expertise. In 2016, she assisted in obtaining a Lowe’s Heroes grant that provided $140,000 to replace carpeting, window coverings and paint interiors of the Reading Public Library’s Northeast and Southeast branches. Dolan continues to manage renovations to the roof and meeting rooms of the main library.

The Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks received Outstanding Community Organization, an award presented to a local nonprofit or organization in recognition of its support to the community. The Federation developed a year-long author series, Literatour Berks, which partnered with Exeter and Sinking Spring libraries through the Jewish Book Council. A success, they expanded the series’ audience to encourage all to enjoy literature and build connections to non-Jews.

Reading Public Library’s SummerSTEAM@RPL received Outstanding Program, which recognizes a member library for the presentation of an adult, young adult, or children’s program of exceptional interest or creativity. From June 17 to Aug. 9, the program, with an attendance of 1,055, took STEM outside of the library, exploring electricity, biology, coding and other STEM subjects.

Libraries can only function with the dedicated staff, continued commitment, and recognized accomplishments that run them. The individuals, programs, and libraries rewarded were all rightfully acknowledged for providing exemplary service and communities where all can come to learn, discover, and connect.

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