SILS alumna, Susan Brown, to receive ALA’s most prestigious award

June 26, 2013

Susan BrownSusan Brown (MSLS ’01), director of the Chapel Hill Public Library and alumna of the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will be in the spotlight at this weekend’s American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago. 

On behalf of her previous employer, Lawrence (KS) Public Library, Brown will accept a 2013 John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award, “the Most Prestigious Award of the American Library Association.”

The award is for her “Banned Books Trading Cards Project,” completed last fall during Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read that is recognized at bookstores and libraries nationwide. Brown led an innovative initiative that invited local artists to create works of art inspired by a banned book or author. Seven pieces were selected to be reproduced as trading cards, with information about where, when and why the books had been challenged printed on the reverse side of the card. One card was unveiled each day of the week on the library’s Web site and social media, as well as on the front page of the local paper. The cards were given away for free at the library, and to get a complete set, area residents had to come into the library every day. By the end of the week, 450 sets of cards had been given out, the project had garnered national media attention in outlets such as The Huffington Post, and Brown had set up a mechanism to sell cards via the library Web site in order to meet national and international demand for the cards. 

According to the Web site, “The John Cotton Dana Award, provided in conjunction with the H.W. Wilson Foundation, the American Library Association and EBSCO, honors outstanding library public relations, whether a summer reading program, a year-long centennial celebration, fundraising for a new college library, an awareness campaign or an innovative partnership in the community.”
The citation for Brown’s work reads:
“The Lawrence (Kansas) Public Library engaged the community in the celebration of Banned Books Week by having local artists competitively design a week’s worth of trading cards. These unique cards succeeded in actively involving the arts community, putting a new marketing twist on typical banned books activities. The campaign attracted collectors and nationwide media attention.”

On behalf of Lawrence Public Library, one of eight 2013 winners, Brown will accept a $10,000 development grant in cash from the H.W. Wilson Foundation. She will be presented with the award at the EBSCO reception at the American Library Association annual conference on Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 4:40 pm.
A limited number of sets are still available for purchase via the Lawrence Public Library Web site.