Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Paul Clark is 1 of 10 national award winners

We are very proud to announce that NEFLIN member, Paul Clark, is one of 10 librarians in the nation to receive the “I Love My Librarian” Award.

This award is sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the New York Times and the American Library Association.

Clark, an unassuming but passionate technical services worker at the Clay County library system’s Fleming Island headquarters, was among 2,000 nominees from libraries in cities, schools and colleges throughout the U.S.

He said he was told about the award two weeks ago, but was asked to keep it “hush-hush” until a formal announcement was made.

“Actually, I cried,” Clark said of his reaction to hearing the news. “It’s been hard not to tell anybody. It was overwhelming for me.”

Each of the 10 award winners receives $5,000 and will be honored at a ceremony hosted by The New York Times on Thursday, Dec. 9. 

“The money comes at a time when I most need it,” Clark said. “My kids will get a good Christmas.”
Clark became known as “The Library Guy” because he planted himself at the state capitol every day for two weeks during the 2010 legislative session. He would hold up signs – sometimes two or three at a time – urging politicians to cancel their plans to cut $21 million in public library funding from the state budget.
And he used 80 hours of his vacation time to do it.

His efforts paid off. Legislators restored the funding – and in essence, $8 million more in federal matching grants – that library officials says is desperately needed by unemployed and low income families who rely on public library computers to search for jobs.

Clark said he plans to continue lobbying on behalf of Florida’s poor and working poor, and that he hopes recognition from the award will help him open doors “to all the right people” in Tallahassee.
“Libraries are more than just books,” he said. “They’re busier than ever.”  

The award wasn’t the first time Clark has been honored. Last summer he was named the Florida Association of Counties’ Advocate of the Year, and he was recognized by Clay County commissioners for his selfless dedication to a worthy cause.  “It’s been a humbling experience,” Clark said. “There are thousands of librarians out there that are just as valuable.”  

All Images Copyright 2010 Paul M. Gaykowski

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