What are the qualities that make a Librarian of the Year? Dedication? Participation? Unbridled energy? Doing more, much more, than is required or even expected? Efficiency? Nationally known and respected? On top of all that, how about being one of the nicest people you will ever meet, seldom without a smile.
Those qualities and more, such as spinning a plate on a stick, earned Sharon Rawlins, youth services coordinator for the NJ State Library for 15 years, the title of 2019 NJ Librarian of the Year. She received her tiara during the awards ceremony May 30 at the NJ Library Association Annual Conference in Atlantic City.
Rawlins resume is extensive as may be seen below in her nomination letter.
Demonstrating the value of libraries: Sharon does this on both a state level as she supports and publicizes the great work being done by youth services librarians statewide with the annual Summer Reading Program, as well as being heavily involved in the Collaborative Summer Library Program national initiative, including being President of that organization and chair of many of their committees over the past fifteen years.
Actively participating in NJLA and other New Jersey library organizations: Sharon can hardly ever say no to a request for her expertise in the area of childrens’ and youth services. She has been the coordinator of the fall Youth Service Forum on many occasions, including bringing noted authors to speak to the audience. This forum is almost always sold out long before the date. Sharon has also formed alliances with other organizations serving children and families, such as the Franklin Institute Science Museum and the National Girls Collaborative Project funded by the National Science Foundation for the LEAP into Science Program and Supercharged Story Times in collaboration with WebJunction. Sharon serves as the State Library’s representative to the New Jersey Association of School Librarians, attending both their meetings and their annual conference. She also oversees the Collaborative Summer Library Program co-sponsored by NJLA, and attends NJLA’s CSS and YA section meetings. Finally, she has been a steadfast presence at the National Book Festival annually in support of the New Jersey Center for the Book, and plays an active role on the Garden State Book Awards committee.
Enhancing the image of librarians and libraries: Sharon is an articulate speaker on behalf of the work done by youth services librarians. She has served on a number of American Library Association committees and represented New Jersey admirably. Recently she presented at the Association of Rural and Small Libraries conference on STEM for pre-schoolers and a Booklist webinar on coding books for youth.
Advancing community relations: Sharon has participated with other State Library staff in conversations with P2P Learning Circles; she attends the NJASL Executive Board Meetings; takes part in ALA Literacy Assembly Conference calls and was recently on a National Network Libraries of Medicine-Middle Atlantic Region Conference call. She provides readers advisory, consultant services on collection development, and outreach to promote statewide services and programs that address the needs of youth services librarians throughout New Jersey.
Initiating a new library service or program: Sharon’s participation in national initiatives through ALA ensures that she brings to New Jersey the most innovative programs and grants in the children’s and youth services field. Appointed the ASCLA liaison to ALA’s Literacy Assembly, deeply involved with YALSA, a trainer for Every Child Ready to Read and STEM Early Literacy Storytimes,
Sharon Rawlins deserves this award for her many years of contribution to the field. I can think of no youth services librarian as well known throughout the state, and even nationally. There is not a youth services librarian in New Jersey who does not know her name. Her presence in the youth services community of NJ public and school libraries is ubiquitous.