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Texas Library Association Awards presented at #txla23

TLA Annual Conference, TLA Membership, TLA News

Please congratulate the winners of the following TLA 2023 Awards! These awards were presented at the Texas Library Association 2023 Annual Conference in Austin, during General Session I at the Austin Convention Center on Thursday, April 20.

Walter Betts, former TLA President, was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Walter is currently the Department Head of the Library Systems and Technology Department at the University of Texas at Arlington. Previously, he was the Systems Librarian at Texas Christian University for 14 years. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a librarian who has been a long-standing member of TLA. The award recognizes an exemplary career in librarianship, an extended record of service, active participation in professional organizations, and creative leadership and service to the library profession.

Walter has served with distinction in school libraries at the campus and district level, as an academic librarian, and as a library educator. He has been a devoted, conscientious, and courageous librarian who not only served his own institutions incredibly well; he also assumed key positions at the state and national level to support and advance the work of libraries. He has held positions with the American Library Association and served in multiple TLA officer roles and executive board positions.

Roosevelt Weeks, Director of Libraries for Austin Public Library, won the Librarian of the Year Award.

Roosevelt is the Representative-at-Large (public libraries) on the TLA Executive Board and is the Vice Chair/Chair-elect of the Urban Library Council. He also serves on the Waterloo Greenway Board of Directors, the University of Texas Library System Advisory Council, the University of North Texas College of Information Board of Advisors, the Texas Book Festival Board of Advisors and other library and literacy boards and committees.

He was integral in leading the movement to pass an Austin City Council ordinance to eliminate overdue fines for Austin Public Library materials returned or renewed past their due date. This change removed an economic barrier for accessing library materials.

Roosevelt led the effort to expand access to Austin Public Library materials for Central Texas students by moving to eliminate the non-resident fee for library cards for any students in Travis County but outside the City of Austin. Additionally, he has worked with school districts in the area to issue student library cards directly to all students.

Virginia Bigler won the Distinguished Service Award.

Virginia has been a leader among the more than 100 Northside ISD librarians for many years. She serves as a mentor to new librarians in the district, working with them to make sure they are supported and have what they need. She has also mentored two university students as they worked to graduate from library school. One of her former assistants became a librarian and attributes much of her success to Virginia’s leadership and example. In addition, four of her former students are currently working on their MLS degrees as a direct result of their positive experiences in her high school library, and she is currently a mentor for two of her high school seniors who are doing a year-long independent study on librarianship.

Chari Kauffman won the Wayne Williams Project of the Year Award. Chari Kauffman and Trinidad Contreras accepted the award on behalf of their program, Noche de Cuentos (Story Night) at North Shore Middle School in Houston. Noche de Cuentos was designed to promote literacy through culturally significant storytelling, fun activities and immersive displays.

Students and community members were invited to hear volunteer storytellers share traditional Hispanic oral stories and to participate in other literacy-related activities. The event attracted approximately 600 – 700 people over two hours. The main attraction was live storytellers in tents sharing stories such as: La Lechuza, El Cucuy, La Llorona, El Silbón, El Sombrerón, Maria Angula, La Pascualita, etc. Some of the storytellers provided elaborate decorations in their tents to highlight their stories and dressed in costume/face paint. In addition, three large immersive walk-through displays were popular with the crowd. These included: a Harry Potter Walk Through, a large cardboard maze from The Maze Runner, and a Black Panther walk-through with comic book panels. In addition, the ESL Department read books on Fiestas and Dia De Los Muertos and provided craft activities for each. Other activities or the evening included: Dia de Los Muertos Face Painting, Green Screen Photo Booth, Book Mark Making, Literary Jeopardy, Button Making, Book Tasting, Two Sentence Horror Stories, Giant Scrabble, Author Signing, and a Story Walk for younger children. Books were provided to all who attended.