WARWICK – Rosemary Cooper, the Albert Wisner Public Library’s director, won the 2017 I Love My Librarian award, sponsored by the New York Public Library, the American Library Association, and the Carnegie Foundation.
Cooper, the library’s director for 16 years, is one of only 10 librarians nationwide to receive the honor this year.
She picked up the award Thursday at a gala ceremony at the New York Public Library in Manhattan.
The presenters were the presidents of the ALA, and the two other sponsoring organizations.
“In our profession, those people are the Hall of Fame,” said Cooper, who’s been working in libraries 39 years.
She came to Albert Wisner as director in November 2001. “This is a huge validation of my life’s work and the work of an army of other people,” Cooper said.
The ALA said Cooper’s award-winning initiatives included turning an “outdated library” into a “welcoming and vibrant community center,” establishing a monthly program to display local artists’ work, and developing a special collection focusing on mental and emotional health issues.
She was also lauded for training library staff to better serve patrons with disabilities.
During Superstorm Sandy, the ALA said, Cooper extended library hours for residents who needed heat, electricity and internet access.
Cooper was one of 10 librarians chosen from among 1,125 nominations. She received a $5,000 prize.
In October 2009, Cooper oversaw the library’s move from its old building at 2 Colonial Ave. that now houses the A.W. Buckbee Center, to its present location, at 1 McFarland Drive.
Warwick School District voters approved an $8.5 million bond in March 2007.
Although so much information is available at our fingertips via the internet, Cooper said public libraries continue to equalize access to information.
“Your ability to pay doesn’t matter, or your ethic or sexual orientation,” she said. “Libraries have a way of being a great equalizer in our great institution of democracy.”
“We keep the channels of communication open,” Cooper said. “You don’t do that on the internet.”
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