URI library school awards scholarships, names Library of the Year, Alumnus of the Year

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KINGSTON, R.I. – March 16, 2015 — The Cranston Public Library and the Providence Community Library were named Libraries of the Year by the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at its 2015 Annual Gathering on March 6.


The event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick featured presentations by U.S. Senator Jack Reed and Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt, executive director of the Speak Media Project, but it was the award winners that took center stage. Valerie Karno, interim director of the library school, said, “The Annual Gathering is an opportunity for alumni, faculty, students, librarians, and state and URI officials to meet and celebrate all the work we have collectively done during the year to provide people the necessary knowledge and tools to be educated citizens in this information society.”


The Libraries of the Year were recognized for their contributions to public library service. Cranston Public Library Director Ed Garcia accepted his library’s award by noting that “this award is about our staff. The staff at the Cranston Public Library provides an extremely important service to the people of Cranston. They provide excellent customer service, innovative programs and are the backbone of this organization. They are the reason we were chosen as Library of the Year.”


Dhana Whiteing, Sue Gibbs, and Cyndie Wilmot of the Providence Community Library accepted the award celebrating their staff’s efforts to take a group of small neighborhood libraries and not only kept them open, but help them thrive through collaboration and community.


The Alumnus of the Year award was presented to Michael Pelikan, who graduated from the URI program in 2000. He is an information technology consultant at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Information Sciences and Technology, where he works in its Emerging Technologies Group and its Technical Architect’s Group, serving as what he called “an embedded information scientist.”


The event also featured the induction of new members into the Beta Iota chapter of Beta Phi Mu, the international honor society of librarians and library educators. Assistant Professor Lauren Mandel inducted the new members: URI Lecturer Katie Leahy; Angela Pugliese, reference librarian, New England Institute of Technology, East Greenwich; Matthew Raymond, reference librarian, Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, Mass.; Alexa Roy, reference librarian, New Caanan Library, New Canaan, Conn.; Elliot Stevens, library commons assistant, Providence College, Providence; and Wendy Thatcher, reference librarian, Topsfield Town Library, Topsfield, Mass. URI Professor Emeritus Donna Gilton was also inducted as an honorary member. The induction ceremony included the lighting of a ceremonial oil lamp and the signing of the Great Roll.


The celebration concluded with the awarding of scholarships. The scholarships and their recipients are: Betty Fast Memorial Fund – Sonya Capuano of Bristol; Elizabeth Futas Scholarship – Catherine Damiani of Barrington; Matoon-Kline and GSLIS Prism Scholarships – Andrea Guzmán of National City, Calif.; Yvonne Hunter Yare and Robert Sayles Yare Scholarship – Stephanie Goetz of Johnston; and Frank Kellerman Memorial Scholarship – Shelby Tyszka of Wethersfield, Conn.


In his presentation, Sen. Reed noted the significant role that libraries play in the fight against unemployment, citing the many ways in which libraries provide the necessary tools for people to find and prepare for jobs. He received a standing ovation when he said that libraries offer “not a hand out, but a hand up.”


Pictured above:

(l-r) Valerie Karno, interim director of the URI Graduate School of Library and Information Science, poses with Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library, Emily Browne-Suen, coordinator of youth services at the Cranston Public Library, and Nong Suen, after the Cranston library was named library of the year.


(l-r) Dhana Whiteing, library manager of Mt. Pleasant Library, Cyndie Wilmot, board member of the Providence Community Library, and Sue Gibbs, business director of the Providence Community Library, pose with Senator Jack Reed after the Providence library was named library of the year.


Photos courtesy of URI GSLIS.