Alabama Library Association (ALLA) Convention. In addition to the outstanding training opportunities, a key highlight—especially for the Birmingham delegation—was the President’s Reception on Thursday, April 25 where Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) Director Irene “Renee” Blalock received the Eminent Librarian Award. She received this honor for her advocacy, community service and service to the profession. The event took place at Alley Station.
According to the ALLA Awards Committee: "The Eminent Librarian Award shall be presented to a librarian or an individual in a related field who has been in Alabama for a minimum of ten (10) years and who, during this time, has made an exceptional and enduring contribution toward the development of library service within Alabama." Often described as an “idea person” and a believer in the transformative power of public libraries, Blalock was a model candidate for the award. "I am humbled and honored to be named Eminent Librarian by ALLA. My singular focus throughout my career has been to make our libraries stronger and better able to serve our citizens. I have truly benefited from working with a group of professionals whose mission is to provide Alabamians with meaningful information, resources, and programming that improves and enhances their lives," she stated.
Renee Blalock has served the Birmingham Public Library for over 30 years. She has worked in many capacities including branch manager of Parke Memorial (now Southside), Eastwood and the Avondale Branches. She also served as Business Manager, coordinator of the Southern Branch Region, and Coordinator for Library Operations. In 1994, she was named Associate Director of the Central Library, then Associate Director of Community Services in 1998. In 2009, she was promoted to Director.
In her long career at BPL, Blalock has made important improvements to the system. She supervised the reorganization of the management team and the creation of an administrative services division. She was part of the team that established and wrote the system-wide collection management policy. She has overseen numerous enhancements to the branch libraries, collections and furnishings including major renovations at the Avondale and Springville Road Branches. She was project manager overseeing construction of two new buildings for the Five Points West and West End Branches. Most recently, major upgrades to the East Lake and Powderly Libraries have been completed on her watch. Additionally, a major upgrade to the Inglenook Branch and the rebuilding of the Pratt City Branch (destroyed by the April 2011 storm) are underway.
Besides her work for BPL, Blalock has served her profession. She served on the board of the Public Library Association and is an active member of the Alabama Library Association, Jefferson County Public Library Association, the Jefferson County Library Cooperative Board, and the University of Alabama Library School Association Board.