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Sharon Rawlins Honored by YALSA
Sharon Rawlins, Youth Services Consultant for the New Jersey State Library for the past four years, has been honored by the Board of Directors of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association, for her dedication and loyalty to New Jersey libraries, YALSA, the American Library Association, and the children and teens of New Jersey.
The resolution notes that librarians from across New Jersey recognize Rawlins as the go-to person at the State Library for advice and guidance on programs for youth. She has served as head of Youth Services for the Library for the Blind & Handicapped, now known as the NJ State Library’s Talking Book and Braille Center (TBBC); as a freelance virtual reference librarian for Q&ANJ; and is an active member of the NJ Library Association (NJLA). She heads the work of the annual Youth Services Forum Committee; organizes the statewide NJ Children’s and Young Adult Author Conference with the NJLA; coordinates the statewide Summer Reading Program; was instrumental in the implementation of Homework HelpNJ; and oversaw the State Library’s Pennies for Peace fundraiser.
The North Brunswick resident grew up in Piscataway. After graduating from Piscataway High, she earned her degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. “Watergate was a big event in my early life and the book All the President’s Men very influential,” she said. “I thought I could become the next Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein, so after graduation I worked at a small newspaper in Newton, NC, covering a variety of stories, including the police beat. Unfortunately, not much happened in that town of 3,000 so I became bored – and knew I didn’t have what it took to be a great reporter.”
Her love of reading, however, led her to consider becoming a librarian, so in 1985 she began her new career at the Metuchen Public Library’s circulation desk. In 1991 she received her Master’s in Library Science from Rutgers University. After seven years in Metuchen, she went on to work another 14 years at the Piscataway Public Library with adults and teens, before joining the staff of TBBC.
Rawlins has been a member of YALSA for 15 years, was recently elected to serve on the American Library Association’s 2013 Michael Printz Committee, and is serving on the ALA Committee on Literacy, and as chair of the Association of Specialized & Cooperative Library Agencies’ Youth Services Consultants Discussion Group. She has served on numerous other committees, including the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards and Best Books for Young Adults Award committees, and has given presentations on youth literature for the NJLA, the NJ Association of School Media Specialists, The NJ Education Association, and the NJ Department of Education.
“When I started as a reporter I used a manual typewriter; when I went to work at the library, the Internet didn’t exist; now, I can find answers in seconds that used to take hours. I love how new technologies and the different social networking websites make information and communication available so quickly,” she added. Rawlins still keeps her journalism skills honed by writing reviews of teen fantasy and science fiction books for School Library Journal and sharing her love of young adult books as a blogger on YALSA’s The Hub.