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Luis Herrera, San Francisco City Librarian, Wins Sullivan Award

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The American Library Association (A.L.A.) announced on Monday, March 10, 2014 the 2014 Peggy Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children has been awarded to Luis Herrera, San Francisco City Librarian. The Sullivan Award is presented annually to an individual in a library administrator role who has shown exceptional understanding and support of public library service to children.

The award will be presented at the A.L.A. President’s Program, Sunday, June 29, 2014 at the A.L.A. Annual Conference in Las Vegas. As City Librarian, Luis Herrera is responsible for the administration of the San Francisco Public Library’s twenty-eight libraries.

Previously, Herrera served as the Director of Information Services for Pasadena Public Library, the Deputy Director of the San Diego Public Library, and Associate Director of the Long Beach Public Library in California. Herrera earned his B.S. from the University of Texas at El Paso, an M.L.S. from the University of Arizona, and an M.P.A. from California State University.

Herrera serves as Chair of the California Council for Humanities and in 2011 was appointed to serve on the Steering Committee for the Digital Public Library of America. From 1998 to 2002, he served on the Library Advisory Board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

On January 9, 2012, Library Journal named Herrera the 2012 Librarian of the Year. On March 12, 2012, President Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. nominated Herrera to the National Museum and Library Services Board (N.M.L.S.B), which is an advisory body that includes twenty members who have demonstrated expertise in, or commitment to, library or museum services.

The N.M.L.S.B. advises the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (I.M.L.S.) director on general policy and practices, and on selections for the National Medals for Museum and Library Service. IMLS Director Susan Hildreth is a former San Francisco City Librarian.

"Thanks to Luis Herrera’s leadership, San Francisco’s public libraries are a source of civic pride that enrich the cultural fabric of our community,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “This presidential nomination to the national board is richly deserved for our City Librarian who has ensured that the San Francisco Public Library is well positioned for generations to come."

As San Francisco’s City Librarian, Mr. Herrera has guided the city government through the largest capital improvement program in the history of the San Francisco Public Library (S.F.P.L.), leading the completion of twenty-two new or renovated branch libraries throughout San Francisco. According to the S.F.P.L., “He has helped build San Francisco Public Library’s reputation as one that honors tradition while embracing innovation, follows through on promises, empowers staff leadership, and demonstrates a clear commitment to serving the diverse needs of San Francisco.”

The A.L.A. stated, “Herrera demonstrates a passion and exceptional support for public library services to children in a wide range and scope. As a member of the Public Library Association (PLA) Board, he supported the launch of a partnership with the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) which led to the PLA/ALSC Every Child Ready to Read @ your library (ECRR) initiative. When Herrera was PLA president, he was instrumental in negotiating the Memorandum of Agreement between PLA and the Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC) that institutionalized and provided funding for ECRR @ your library which has been implemented nationally.”

San Francisco Public Library and its patrons have also benefited from Herrera’s leadership and focus on children’s services. He has overseen the development and deployment of many programs there, including robust childcare provider service; Baby Rhyme Time, Lapsit Storytime and Stay And Play; the first multi-year partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District; and procured an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant for a Teen Digital Media Center.

As a member of the IMLS Board of Directors, Herrera endorsed the 2012 partnership between IMLS, the Office of Head Start, and the Administration of Children and Family’s (ACF) Office of Childcare, as well the Growing Young Minds project. Herrera’s collaborative work also helped create a partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and the support of a 2012 IMLS research brief, ‘Children’s Services at Public Libraries: A Port in the Storm.’

Herrera has also been a longtime and active member of REFORMA, The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, since his graduation from the University of Arizona…

Mayor Lee, in his support of Herrera’s nomination for the Sullivan Award, stated “I have been proud to see what a central role the San Francisco Public Library plays in the lives of our city’s families…Herrera has championed the program to ensure San Francisco’s 27 neighborhood branch libraries are updated, accessible and welcoming to children and families.” Lee also noted Herrera’s creation of San Francisco Public Library’s Tricycle Music Fest West, an early literacy-themed series of library concerts for children that “draws award-winning musicians to San Francisco and ignites the rock-and-roll spirits of thousands of our families with young children.”

“The 2014 Sullivan Award committee was unanimous in their selection of Luis Herrera,” said Dodie Ownes, 2014 jury chair. “The excellent nomination packet conveyed Luis’s wide ranging impact on our profession,” noted Kathleen Reif, jury member and 2013 Sullivan award winner. Another stated “Luis Herrera is the personification of a library administrator who supports children’s services at the highest level.”

Members of the 2014 Sullivan Award Committee are: Chair Dodie Ownes, editor, SLJTeen, Golden, Colorado; Christine Bradley, Director, Norwalk Public Library System, Norwalk, Connecticut; Kathleen Reif, Director, St. Mary’s County Library, Leonardtown, Maryland; Cynthia K. Richey, Director, Mt. Lebanon Public Library, Pittsburgh; Francisco Vargas, Youth Services Officer, Long Beach Public Library, Long Beach, California.

The deadline for submission of applications for the 2015 Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children is Monday, December 1, 2014. Guidelines and applications are available on the ALA website.

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