In October 1967, the Harrisburg Public Library expanded beyond its historic facility on Front and Walnut Streets by opening three city branch libraries. Considered both innovative and revolutionary at the time, these libraries were positioned in three different shopping centers:
The branches were very successful. But within a few years of their opening, budget pressures on the library put their future in jeopardy. Citizens rallied to keep the libraries open and to advocate for funding to help make this possible. A focal point for these community meetings was the Uptown facility and one of the key advocates leading these meetings was Marilynn Kanenson. As a result of heightened public awareness and vigorous advocacy, these three libraries survived and have thrived. They are now out of their shopping center “birthplaces” and housed in their own facilities.
Fast forward to 2007. The Nominating Committee of The Library’s Board of Trustees was assembling a list of potential board members. The name Marilynn Kanenson was mentioned and subsequently put forth as a recommendation to the Dauphin County Commissioners. The Commissioners supported the recommendation and in January 2008 Marilynn joined the Board. After this initial year, Marilynn was elected to her first three-year term. In the years since, she has served in most, if not all, the officer positions, including President. She is currently serving as Immediate Past President.
Marilynn has also been integrally involved in board planning retreats and the strategic planning process. As Immediate Past President, she chairs the Board Development Committee (formerly known as the Nominating Committee) and has now come full circle from the one being discussed at a Nominating Committee to the person leading the discussions about potential future library board members.
In addition to her work with The Library, Marilynn is active with other important organizations and causes within the community. These include, but are not limited to, Dauphin County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities, the Harrisburg Symphony, numerous positions within the Jewish community, including President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, Chair of the annual United Jewish Community Appeal and two terms as President of the Jewish Family Service. In recognition of her tireless work, the Federation honored her with the Albert Hursh Senior Leadership Award in 2002.
With respect to the library system, and especially the Madeline L. Olewine Memorial Library (MOM), Marilynn has given generously of her time, talents and money. These contributions range from funding a special music program for children to successfully advocating for expanded hours at this location. These expanded hours are showing very positive results in the 7 months since they have been implemented.
Personal interaction with staff is most important to Marilynn and she takes every opportunity to make this happen. At a recent staff enrichment day, she remained for quite some time after the formal program with the intent of interacting with every staff member. She is always there to show appreciation to staff.
More than 45 years have passed since Marilynn initially became involved with the library system. Her passion and her contributions of time and resources make her most worthy of this prestigious award.
Allison is not only a wonderful person –– intelligent, great sense of humor –– but she is very knowledgeable of her job. She has made the challenging transition to The Library’s new computer system, Sierra, go smoothly. If there is a problem with Sierra, everyone knows to “ask Allison.” She solves such issues in a timely, efficient manner.
Many staff members had important and specific roles during migration and they all worked hard. Yet, no one person had the knowledge and skills to meld cataloging and indexing so that the catalogs would look and function as we wanted, or knew how to direct cataloging in this new environment to maximize accessibility. Allison decided to fill that gap by teaching herself, in a matter of weeks, both cataloging and indexing basics, while supervising a staff of 10, working at the reference desk and directing the migration indexing team. Needless to say, she did a lot of study and learning outside her scheduled hours, because she was passionate about getting it right. Our catalogs are super, and due to Allison’s ongoing commitment, they just keep getting better and more functional.
The work described above was only part of what Allison did to make migration a success. She kept learning more about how the new system worked, and was a key player in establishing interim procedures, identifying and correcting patron registration problems, testing patron notices, correcting loan rules, writing instructions for frontline staff and handling many other issues. Allison had a role in almost every facet of migration. And this work was all performed before she became the Systems Librarian.
As an excellent Systems Librarian, she continues to do all of the above and much more, regularly learning something new to improve her performance, and tweaking and improving the system. From the beginning she has kept the lines of communication open with all staff, a real and unusual boon in a Systems Librarian. Allison has always been a valuable employee; in this past year she has shone especially brilliantly.
The Library Personnel Committee has selected Jo Sheppard to receive the Dottie & Henry Swartz Volunteer Excellence Award for her contributions in 2014.
Jo Sheppard has a long and established history at the Kline Library, where she has been a Friend of Kline Library for about 25 years, supporting it with her leadership and fundraising efforts. She became an official Volunteer Program participant with The Library in 2013.
Jo provides patron support on the public computers, a volunteer position requiring expertise and patience. Jo has extensive experience in computers, and can perfectly identify with novices who know nothing about PCs. “That’s how I began! When I share everything I had to learn by mistake, it gives hope to others,” Jo says. “Jobs are found on-line! I like helping.” Jo has been giving hope to others for decades. She began volunteering when she was 19 years of age; giving back to the community is a family value.
Jo is a vital resource for both the staff and patrons on Wednesday evenings at Kline, and within the community, where she has served many local organizations. Literacy is a passion for Jo and she cannot imagine a world without flourishing libraries. “Kids need books to succeed in life, even digital ones. And all ages need a place to visit and find those books.”
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