Library Director Receives National Award

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Library Director Receives National Award


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Brings National Recognition to St. Mary’s County

St. Mary’s County Library Director, Kathleen Reif, is the 2013 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Peggy Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children Award.  This annual national award is presented to an individual in an administrator role who has shown exceptional understanding and support of public library services to children. She will receive the award on June 30 at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. 

Reif received the award “for her sustained and effective efforts to providing children’s services, with particular attention to early literacy and learning and Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR), a parent education outreach initiative.”

Her passion for children and early literacy and her unwavering commitment the role public libraries play in this mission were overwhelmingly evident in the eleven glowing nominations letters from local, state and national colleagues.  Local testimony was submitted by library staff, Library Board Vice-President Alan Dillingham, Delegate John Bohanan, retired Commissioner Tom Mattingly, School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano and the Carolyn and Grant Graessle family.

According to the jury chair, “the Award Committee was unanimous in their selection of Kathleen.”  One jury member noted that “her intense focus and commitment to early literacy is what I feel definitely puts her on top.” Another stated, “Good leaders can change lives and it sounds like Kathleen has done that as a library administrator in terms of her library colleagues in St. Mary’s County, the role model she has become for others dedicated to childhood literacy, and for all the children her initiatives have touched.”

Locally, Reif has expanded the WoW Van Service and transformed the children’s departments into welcoming spaces for children and families to spend meaningful moments to grow and learn together.  She has created and nurtured community relationships and partnerships with Judy Centers, Head Start, social services and local businesses to further early literacy.  The library system was selected as one of five pilot sites for The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant in Maryland.

At the state level, Reif developed and chaired the Maryland Association of Public Library Administrators Birth to Four Task Force in 1998 which led to the statewide campaign “It’s Never Too Early.”  She was instrumental in developing an on-going relationship with public libraries and Ready at Five, the statewide public/private partnership which gives voice to young children in Maryland. She was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley to represent public libraries on the Maryland Early Childhood Advisory Council, a first for public libraries.

Nationally, her perseverance ultimately led to the creation of the national Every Child Ready to Read initiative which was recognized and earned Maryland public libraries and Reif an invitation to participate in Laura Bush’s White House Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development in 2001.  Her leadership led to the creation of a partnership between Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Office of Head Start, and the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Child Care to encourage collaboration between early childhood programs and public libraries to meet the educational needs of young children and their families.

Not only is this an outstanding honor for Reif, but also for St. Mary’s County Library.  As she said, “If it weren’t for the extraordinary support I receive from the library staff and local partners, I could not have accomplished many of the projects that allowed me to be nominated for this award.  I am honored to be recognized by my professional association and, more importantly, to be appreciated by the many colleagues who wrote the support letters.” 

The press release issued by the American Library Association can be viewed at

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