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TLA 2021 Upstart Award and Branding Iron Award Winners Announced

TLA Annual Conference, TLA News

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Upstart Awards and Branding Iron Awards for your excellent work!

Demco Upstart Innovative Programming Award: Cozby Library & Community Commons
The Texas Library Association is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2021 Demco/Upstart Innovative Programming Award in the public libraries category is Cozby Library and Community Commons of Coppell. The library receives the award for their “Meet Your Neighbor” Project.

The “Meet Your Neighbor” project is a series of events that consist of a panel of three to four citizens from the community who get a chance to tell their stories and answer questions from the audience. The library works with the Community Builders Committee, which consists of library staff and residents. This collaboration with community members helps library staff to identify important topics for the City of Coppell. The project provides a safe place for people to share their stories, answer questions, and address stereotypes. This project has also been an innovative way for underserved populations to have a voice in the community. The “Meet Your Neighbor” project has also contributed to the successful transition of the library services into the online environment. Additionally, it increased the library’s visibility in the community.

Demco Upstart Innovative Programming Award: Sharyland ISD
The Texas Library Association is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2021 Demco/Upstart Innovative Programming Award in the school libraries category is Penny Payte McLeaish LRC (Sharyland High School) of the Sharyland Independent School District. The Penny Payte McLeaish LRC receives the award for the Alumni Snapshot Campaign.

The Alumni Snapshot Campaign focuses on increasing the use of the library for students, teachers, and parents; increasing college readiness among upperclassmen; and motivating incoming freshmen to set their goals early upon entering high school. The program shows an impressive level of engagement between the current high school students and recent graduates. Because of this program, current students aspire to not only be accepted to college but to be chosen as role models for current students and upheld as success stories. It gives the entire school community a sense of accomplishment to see the graduates excel at the next level.

Librarians across Texas continually create amazing work to promote their services, programs, and events. This was especially true in 2020, when libraries everywhere had to adapt their programming because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Texas Library Association’s Branding Iron Awards honor this inspiring and creative work with awards presented in several categories, and one overall Best of Show winner. TLA is delighted to announce this year’s winners:

Best in Show: Barbara Bush Branch Library/Harris County Public Library, “Curbside Larry”
The “Curbside Larry” video campaign made an instant icon out of this librarian with the voice and style of a late-night car salesman, who helped raise the profile of library services nationwide during the pandemic.

Winner, Digital Communications – Public Library Category
Grand Prairie Public Library System, Dinosaur Adoption
In this inventive children’s program, families “adopted” toy dinosaurs, and children cared for them and did activities with them. Creative movie-style trailers generated a lot of interest, and children loved the program, something they could safely do during the pandemic.

Winner, External Communications- Public Library Category
Plano Public Library, Plano Library Learns Blog
Early learning, literary reference, student resources, and job and college preparation were combined into the Plano Library Learns Blog. This dynamic, attractive site has something for all ages.

Winner, Digital Communications – School Library Category
Jaime Escalante Middle School Library, Social & Digital Media Programming and Promotion
A creative and multi-pronged social media presence including Instagram, InstagramTV, YouTube, website and an e-newsletter has helped the library reach an ever-growing audience, even during the pandemic, and made its programs successful.

Winner, Reading Programs – Public Library Category
Keller Public Library, Good Reads & Good Deeds Summer Reading Challenge
In this heartwarming program, children and families were encouraged by librarians to complete both “good reads” (summer reading) and “good deeds” (kind actions to help others and/or the community.) This was a very popular program; and all told, the community completed more than 20,000 good reads and good deeds.

Winner, Reading Programs – School Library Category
Castleberry Independent School District, Books & Bytes Reading Program
The Castleberry ISD Books & Bytes Reading Program distributed books and nutritious meals to families in their district in the summer of 2020. Participation in both the reading program and in food pickup increased as a result of this inventive program.

Winner, Special Events – Academic Library Category
Cornette Library, West Texas A&M University, Kickback and Movie Night Outreach Programs
Cornette Library successfully transformed their Kickback and Movie Night programs into virtual ones, continuing this tradition despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Winner, Special Events – Public Library Category
Fort Worth Public Library, Amplify 817
Through the Fort Worth Public Library, Amplify 817 delivers commercial-free, curated music from Fort Worth artists. This gathering place for Fort Worth music-lovers and musicians inspires discovery and sharing.

Winner, Special Events – School Library Category
Border Book Bash: Celebrating Teens & Tweens of the Rio Grande Valley
The Border Book Bash event is put together by area librarians, school districts, and authors/illustrators to gather middle grade and high school students of the Rio Grande Valley and award-winning authors to congregate in a fun, non-academic setting to connect with literature. In its fifth year, the program made a successful transition to a virtual format to make it safe to attend during the pandemic.