From the Louisiana State Library:
For her outstanding contribution to libraries, Rebecca Hamilton, State Librarian of Louisiana, has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Lynda Carlberg Award, an honor established in 1998 in memory of Lynda Carlberg, director of the Calcasieu Parish Public Library system from 1978 to 1997.
Hamilton was appointed State Librarian in 2005 by then Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. The appointment made her the fourth State Librarian in the agency’s 97-year history, and the youngest State Librarian in the United States. Hamilton has since been reappointed by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and most recently Billy Nungesser, who she works with today serving Louisiana’s 4.7 million citizens, 340 public library branches, and 68 public library systems.
“I am deeply proud of State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton’s work promoting literacy and love of reading, skills that in today’s knowledge-based economy are critical to Louisiana’s overall economic growth,” said Nungesser. “Her commitment to public access to educational and cultural resources is second to none, and the State Library has thrived under her leadership. This award could not have been bestowed on a more deserving individual.”
Under Hamilton’s direction, the State Library of Louisiana underwent a reorganization, streamlining operations and identifying efficiencies. In her first full year in office, Hamilton doubled the amount of state aid to public libraries—the largest increase in the history of the program and the first increase in 20 years. In the following years of her appointment, and with no additional resources at her disposal, Hamilton implemented a new interlibrary loan system, oversaw the addition of content to statewide databases, and secured a line item in the annual budget for public library training.
Additionally, Hamilton directed the rebuilding of the State Library’s internal network and backup systems, and, as a result, the State Library never lost Internet connectivity during the storms of 2008, while all other offices in the state government were down. She also worked closely with SOLINET to obtain a $12 million grant to provide temporary library facilities and other support after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the coast of Louisiana and neighboring states. It was during this time that Hamilton worked tirelessly alongside her fellow state librarians impacted by these storms to ensure that FEMA change their definition of essential services to include public libraries. As a result of the role of public libraries during a disaster, Hamilton has published widely and created university-level coursework on the roles of public libraries during disasters, as well as giving presentations across the United States reporting the best practices set in place by Louisiana Libraries after natural disaster events.
Hamilton, a champion in the fight to bridge the digital divide in Louisiana, oversaw the submission which won the State Library an $8.8M grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) of the Department of Commerce in 2010. The grant provided the State Library the resources to deliver technology and soft skills classes to over 26,000 participants, purchase laptops for checkout in public libraries across the state, implement Homework Louisiana, and obtain accessibility equipment and software for every parish, among many other impactful accomplishments, all geared to promote workforce development and make a difference in the lives of Louisiana citizens.
Hamilton was awarded the Anthony Benoit Mid-Career Award by the Louisiana Library Association in 2012; has been named an outstanding graduate of the LSU School of Library and Information Science; was awarded the LSU Community Partner Award in 2014; and was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 by the Baton Rouge Business Report in 2007.
She will be presented with the Lynda Carlberg Award today, Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Libraries Southwest Author/Award Dinner. Libraries Southwest is a nonprofit corporation of libraries, librarians, trustees, and individuals interested in the promotion and enhancement of libraries and library services.
Louisiana Book News is written by journalist Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and paranormal mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. The first books in her award-winning series are FREE as ebooks! For more information and to sign up for her newsletter visit www.cherieclaire.net.