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MCI Recognizes Cybrarians for Connecting Communities Through Cyberspace
by
Posted On August 10, 1998
After a 2-month online competition, the contest is over. The 22 judges on the national panel have cast their votes. And the winners of the MCI Cybrarian of the Year contest are 59 high-tech librarians representing a public library in each state. These individuals were selected according to their commitment to using technology to better serve their communities and their trailblazing efforts to provide technology to library patrons. Winners will be recognized in their local communities and will each receive a $1,000 donation toward library educational materials and 1 year of dial-up access to the Internet.

Across the country, librarians like Sara Harvey at the Dallas Public Library are fast becoming innovators on the Internet and sharing the wonders of the World Wide Web with their communities. Through one of Harvey's Internet workshops, a local World War II veteran enrolled in Harvey's class, tracked down an old war buddy on the Internet, and arranged a reunion. Other Cybrarians include Karen Davis, developer of the Lawrence (Kansas) CyberVillage (http://www.ci.lawrence.ks.us), and Pittsburgh's Susan Holmes, who manages the Three Rivers Freenet (http://trfn.clpgh.org). Washington's Cybrarian, Michael Schuyler, extends his service beyond the Kitsap Regional Library by writing a regular column for Information Today, Inc.'s Computers in Libraries magazine.

"I was amazed and delighted at the quality and dedication of all the applicants I reviewed as a judge," said Esther Dyson, author of Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, and member of the MCI Cybrarian of the Year National Judging Panel. "Librarians serve a vital role in information technology. All of the applicants combined technical skills with a real appreciation for the value of information in enriching people's daily lives."

According to judge Barbara Quint, editor of Information Today, Inc.'s Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals, "It was wonderful to see how many candidates for Net leadership the profession of librarianship could assemble. The new millennium is upon us in more ways than chronology." Among the other judges were Steve Cisler, board member of the Association for Community Networking; Pamela Cibbarelli, president of Cibbarelli's; and Judith J. Field, president of the Special Libraries Association.

MCI Cybrarian of the Year expands upon a 4-year, $1.4-million initiative called MCI LibraryLINK, which aims to level the playing field and help more people gain access to the wealth of information on the Internet through technology grants to our nation's public libraries. Since MCI LibraryLINK's launch in 1995, the proportion of Internet-connected libraries has increased from 21 percent to 80 percent nationwide.

According to a recent MCI LibraryLINK study, Americans are accessing the World Wide Web more than ever, and, for most users, the public library is the number-one alternative point of access outside home, work, or school. The number of people who accessed the Internet from their public library increased 86 percent since January 1997.

The 1998 MCI Cybrarians of the Year are:

  • Alabama: Phil Teague, Birmingham Public Library
  • Alaska: Kate Gordon, Anchorage Municipal Libraries
  • Arizona: Lynn Bevill, Tucson-Pima Public Library
  • Arkansas: Mary Martin, Fort Smith Public Library
  • California: Mary-Ellen Mort, Bay Area Library and Information System
  • Colorado: Beckie Brazell, Denver Public Library
  • Connecticut: Katherine Leeds, Wilton Library Association, Inc.
  • Delaware: Theresa Plummer, Delaware Division of Libraries
  • District of Columbia: Grace Lyons, Edith Lewis, Doris Greer, and Janice Rosen
  • Florida: Linda Allen, Pasco County Library System
  • Georgia: Daryl Fletcher, Cherokee Regional Library
  • Hawaii: JoAnn Schindler, Hawaii State Library
  • Idaho: Brenda Wilcox, Lucy Boyle Public Library
  • Illinois: Lori Bell, Alliance Library System
  • Indiana: Kristina Daily-Brothers, Brownsburg Public Library
  • Iowa: Brian Davis, Cedar Rapids Public Library
  • Kansas: Karen Davis, Lawrence Public Library
  • Kentucky: Nancy Reed, Paducah Public Library
  • Louisiana: Paige Hanchey, Allen Parish Libraries
  • Maine: Karl Beiser, Maine State Library
  • Maryland: Patricia Wallace, Enoch Pratt Free Library
  • Massachusetts: Elizabeth Johnston, Sherborn Library
  • Michigan: Gerald Furi, Farmington Community Library
  • Minnesota: Julie Billings, Silver Bay Public Library
  • Mississippi: James F. Anderson, First Regional Library in Hernando
  • Missouri: Julie James and Stuart Hinds, Kansas City Public Library
  • Montana: E. Renee Goss, Sidney Public Library
  • Nebraska: Sally Payne, Papillion Sump Memorial Library
  • Nevada: John Kupersmith, Washoe County Library
  • New Hampshire: B.J. Wahl, Keene Public Library
  • New Jersey: Cynthia Hetherington, Englewood Public Library
  • New Mexico: Nancy Turner, Thomas Branigan Memorial Library
  • New York: Fred Stielow, Mid-Hudson Library System
  • North Carolina: Jeff Hall and Suzanne White, Rowan Public Library
  • North Dakota: Liz Mason, Fargo Public Library
  • Oklahoma: Andrew Peters, Pioneer Library System
  • Oregon: Kate Houston, Walter Minkel, Vailey Oehlke, Jackie Partch, and Sara Ryan, Multnomah County Public Library
  • Pennsylvania: Susan Holmes, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
  • Rhode Island: Robert Balliot, East Greenwich Free Library
  • South Carolina: Ray McBride, Darlington County Library System
  • South Dakota: James Scholtz, Yankton Community Library
  • Tennessee: Madge Walker, Greeneville-Green County Library
  • Texas: Sara Harvey, Dallas Public Library
  • Utah: John Averett, Springville Public Library
  • Vermont: Kathleen Naftaly, Rutland Free Library
  • Virginia: Lydia Patrick, Fairfax County Public Library
  • Washington: Michael Schuyler, Kitsap Regional Library
  • West Virginia: Elizabeth Fraser, Kanawha County Public Library System
  • Wisconsin: Terry Dawson, Appleton Public Library
  • Wyoming: Pam Boger, Campbell County Public Library

As part of MCI's ongoing commitment to public libraries, the company is sponsoring an online survey for librarians and patrons that will measure attitudes on the future of Internet technology and the role of the public library in the cyber-revolution. Survey participants will be asked to forecast the library of the future--the prominence of the Internet vs. traditional books and how librarians' roles have changed. Librarians can participate in the online survey at http://www.mci.com/cybrarian. Results will be released at Information Today, Inc.'s Internet Librarian Conference in Monterey, California, in early November.


Laverna Saunders is dean of the library, instructional, and learning support at Salem State College, Salem, Massachusetts.

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