A blog to keep up on what's happening for teens at Brooks Memorial Library including: • new books • events • resources available • fun website suggestions • ... and more.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Who is Ozzie the cat congratulating?

Brattleboro librarian honored as best in state

By BOB AUDETTE, Reformer Staff

Friday, May 23

BRATTLEBORO -- Being a librarian is more than helping someone find a book on a shelf, directing someone to a reference source or sending out overdue notifications.

It's also about embracing new technologies and determining how they can keep the town library a vital part of the community.

Besides managing the day-to-day operations of Brooks Memorial Library, Jerry Carbone has excelled at introducing technology to many people more comfortable with a book or magazine than with a computer monitor.

For his 30 years of work at the local library, Carbone was recognized by the Vermont Library Association when it gave him the Sarah C. Hagar Award.

The award is named after Hagar, the first president of VLA and a librarian at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington for 23 years until her death in 1908. It is awarded each year for outstanding service in or significant contribution to the field of library services in Vermont.

"He is an ace librarian," said Amy Howlett, a regional consultant to the Vermont Department of Libraries, based in Bellows Falls. Howlett was the librarian at the Southeast Regional Library in Dummerston before it was closed.

Libraries are becoming "the new heart of the village," said Howlett and "Jerry is a leader and shaper of that message."

"The VLA recognized the fact that Jerry has done a tremendous amount of work with making information available to the residents of Brattleboro, both with regard to the wireless service they have and the number of services that are available online," said Town Manager Barbara Sondag. "The changes and upgrades he has made really make the library much more accessible."

While technology is changing the way libraries interact with their host communities, said Carbone, it's important to match technology with the needs of the community.

"The power that an individual has just to access databases and images is amazing," he said. "The other revolutionary part is how this can be shared with one another, the communities that can be formed online."

Though information is available right at your fingertips when you use a computer, it's not always reliable, said Carbone. Using resources and reference books available at the library, a person can be guaranteed they are getting accurate information.

Carbone said he was not anticipating the honor.

"It totally knocked me off my feet," he said. "I wasn't expecting anything like that."

"He got some of the best nomination letters we have seen in terms of enthusiasm," said Grace Greene, chairwoman of the VLA awards selection committee.

Those letters came from community members, town officials and library employees, she said.

Carbone leads the way because of his vision and his willingness to adopt new forms of technology, said Greene. He is the kind of person who listens to his staff and his community and lets them participate in the decision making, she said.

"Jerry is one of the top librarians in the state," said Sybil Brigham McShane, Vermont's state librarian. "He is a great resource and I consider him a good friend."

Recognition for the award belongs to the library's staff, its volunteers and its trustees, said Carbone.

"And to Brattleboro for being such a great literary community."

The Hagar award is usually given to someone who is ready to retire, said Carbone. Even though he has been at the Brooks Memorial Library for 30 years, retirement is not near, he said.

Carbone is the Vermont representative to the New England Library Association and also serves on the Vermont Library Association's intellectual freedom committee.

Nominees for the Sarah C. Hagar award must be working in a Vermont library and be a member of VLA. Examples of "outstanding service" include but are not limited to providing outstanding service in one's field of expertise such as children's services, reference, technical services or administration, providing professional library leadership in areas such as legislation, intellectual freedom, literacy or writing and encouraging community support for and involvement with the library at the local or state level.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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