The 2009 Friends of the Library Award was presented to the Friends of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library for their continued support of local and statewide library services over the past forty-four years. Almost all of the funds donated by the Friends are generated from the very successful book sale held at the Gordon Avenue Library annually since 1964. Most of the funding helps to support local library services for children and young adults, while also supporting statewide library activities such as annual donations to VLA for legislative activities, the VLA Scholarship fund, the VLA Foundation, the Virginia Festival of the Book, and the library at the Fluvanna Correctional Facility for Women. The Friends of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library also established the first library endowment fund in the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation in 1992, with a gift of $20,000. Since that time, four additional library endowed funds have been created, to which the Friends also provide support.
The 2009 Honorary Life Membership was awarded to Alan Bernstein for a lifetime of service to the library profession, Virginia libraries, and the Virginia Library Association. Alan Bernstein faithfully served as the VLA Reporter at the Board of the Library of Virginia meetings for nearly twenty years. His clear reporting produced a regular feature in the VLA Newsletter, providing readers a window into current board issues as they occurred. Bernstein’s writing skills were also evident in his positions as a writer for Academic American and as an editor for Collier’s Encyclopedia. Additionally, Bernstein served as the outreach librarian for the Handley Library in Winchester, and recently retired from the Heritage Public Library in Providence Forge as their library director.
Larry Yates, the chairman of the Lonesome Pine Regional Library Board, was given the 2009 Trustee Library Award for his work in creating the new Haysi Community Library in Haysi, Virginia. As a selfless volunteer devoted to his community, Yates recognized the need to relocate the existing Haysi library to a larger, more accessible location. In order to accomplish this, he rolled up his sleeves and solicited the help of the community at large. With his guidance, the town was able to locate a building and raise funding for its renovation through bake sales, book sales, and carnival booths. Yates recruited volunteers to help with the renovation, even managing the construction crews himself so funding could be spent on materials rather than labor. Often found digging water lines or installing shelves, his response when faced with funding or construction setbacks was always, “I know someone who… .” Currently the mayor of Haysi, Yates has proven himself to be a dedicated leader, motivating the entire community to get involved as they worked together to build a new library.
Responding to a recent surge in the area’s Hispanic population, the Henrico Public Library and Henrico County Public School System identified a need to create programs which encourage community discussion about immigration and its related political issues. Building on ALA’s “Linking Libraries, Communities, and Cultures” theme, they invited Latina author Julia Alvarez to participate in their 2008–2009 ALL HENRICO READS partnership project. Waiving her usual speaking fee, Alvarez agreed to a twoday speaking engagement, offering a large evening event as well as small group sessions with area students the following day. Buildup to the grand event included such opportunities as participating in the annual Que Pasa Festival in Richmond, book discussions at the area Spanish Immersion Center, and even an unexpected censorship incident in which parents objected to their children reading Alvarez’s book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. The advertising, conversation, and controversy helped to draw a crowd of well over 1,000 participants, which assisted in achieving the program’s goal of educating the community about the immigration experiences of their local Hispanic families. Undoubtedly, the most heartwarming members of the gathering were those Hispanic families who not only came to hear Alvarez speak, but also waited hours after the program with other audience members to see her, talk with her, and share their own immigration stories.