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Five Win 2018 Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference Awards

May 2, 2018

LANSING – Three librarians; a longtime library advocate; and a library itself are recipients of the 2018 awards for small and rural libraries in Michigan.

The Library of Michigan (LM) announced the recipients of the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference Awards at a ceremony Monday in Traverse City. It’s Michigan’s pre-eminent, bi-annual conference for small and rural libraries, bringing together more than 500 library staff members for three days of workshops, speakers and exhibits.

Here are the award recipients:

  • The Patron Services Award went to Jaema Berman, director of the Addison Township Public Library. She was nominated for her outstanding record of community partnerships, programming, and strong leadership. The excellent letters of support included this quote from Bruce Pearson, Addison Township Supervisor: “I don’t typically write letters of this sort, but her selfless acts and efforts have been encouraging to our community, as well as to me. The compassion she has shown towards our residents serves as an inspiration to everyone.”
  • The Trustee/Friend Award was presented to Linda Lavey, a lifetime library advocate from Pinckney whose relationship with the library stretches back to when she was just 14 years old. A Friend of the Library since 2003, she played an important role in campaigning for the passage of a successful bond millage and has written numerous successful grants for the library.

Library Director Hope Siasoco, said, “Linda has been an integral part of our library’s history and has continued to show her dedication by sharing her time, talent, creativity and resources with the library.”

  • The award for Outstanding Small/Rural Librarian went to two people this year. Dion Mindykowski of the Tahquamenon Area Public Library shares this award with Angela Semifero of the Marshall District Library.

Mindykowski started working in libraries in his senior year in high school and now serves as the director of a library, where he has had a huge impact on his community and nearby libraries. The Tahquamenon Area Public Library provides a wealth of programming opportunities for teens, including teen writing workshops and a healthy “Summer Step Challenge” with a Lord of the Rings-themed contest, between staff and patrons, to see who could reach Mount Mordor first and keep peace in Middle Earth. He also is a beloved staple of continuing education for other library staffers in Michigan.

Semifero also began her long library career in high school as a page in Waterford Township. Her long history of service to the library community includes teaching Reference and Young Adult Literature for the Wayne State University Library and Information Science Program as an Adjunct Faculty member. She co-chaired the Amelia Bloomer Project at the American Library Association and was selected as a Public Library Association Leadership Academy Fellow in 2015.

She has served as the director of Marshall District Library for seven years and was the Athena Award winner for 2014 as well as the Marshall DAR Pillar Award winner for 2015. She also has a long history of statewide collaboration with the Michigan Library Association and the Library of Michigan.

  • The June B. Mendel Award, which comes with a $1,000 gift from the Library of Michigan Foundation’s June B. and Roger Mendel Fund, went to the Alcona County Library. Proudly serving 10,942 residents in rural, northeast Michigan, the Alcona County Library excels at programming large and small. Alcona County does not have a movie theatre, so the library partnered with Inspiration Alcona, a local non-profit dedicated to the arts, to present monthly classic movies and a professor-led series on the history of comedy films. 

In 2017, the library received an environmental initiative grant of more than $22,000 from the Laura Musser Fund and it has been working with the MSU Extension and local groups to develop a Reading Garden and Book Trail. Additionally, the library was selected by the Michigan Humanities Council to host the Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit in 2018.

Nominations are solicited during each conference year and an awards committee, made up of members of the library community, staff and board members, select the recipients.  

The Library of Michigan Foundation generously supports the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference through administration of Loleta Fyan funds. Fyan served as State Librarian from 1941 to 1961. During her 20-year tenure, the number of Michigan citizens without library service was halved by her efforts to build strong cooperative and regional library systems through the state. 

The conference also is supported by the Library of Michigan with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.