JCPLA Honors Community Champions at B&A Warehouse Luncheon

JCPLA 2012 Library Champions
Photo courtesy of Homewood Public Library
The Jefferson County Public Library Association recently honored nine community champions during its annual holiday luncheon at B&A Warehouse in Birmingham, Alabama. The purpose of the luncheon was to recognize the outstanding achievements of volunteers and community partners. The honorees were:

John Montgomery, founder and president of Big Communications, helped implement the Birmingham Public Library's rebranding and awareness campaign in the summer of 2012. With very limited resources, Montgomery and his company developed the system's "Champions of Learning'' educational initiative by recruiting Olympic gold medalist Vonetta Flowers to become the face of the campaign. The campaign showed the importance of having libraries in the community and the value of lifelong reading.

John Paul Taylor, artistic director of Real Life Poets, has conducted poetry workshops at the Birmingham Public Library since 2010. He helps give students the basic literary skills they need to write engaging poetry. What first started out as three workshops in 2010 to help prepare high school students for a countywide poetry slam competition for 2011, has grown to monthly classes that are now offered for students and adults at the library.

Recently, Taylor partnered with the library and the Birmingham Education Foundation to offer workshops for families as part of Parent University programs. Taylor's organization also helps present the annual WORD UP! competition in the spring.

Elinor and Winfield Burks host math and science programs at the Five Points West Library every year and visit several Birmingham Public Library branches in January and February to teach students about George Washington Carver and his peanut research. In 2011, they received a Kresge Foundation grant that helped them develop after-school science programs for the Birmingham Public Library system. They reached 1,395 participants during the school year. Their efforts have helped erase the stigma that science is too hard or that a science career is not a realistic possibility.

The Redmont Neighborhood Association has donated $30,500 to The Library at Birmingham Botanical Gardens over the last 10 years. The money has been used to buy materials for the library. The association strives to make its community better through libraries.

Jackie Hambrick joined the city of Clay's library committee in 2006, working to establish a library for Clay. She worked tirelessly to research funding options in order to transform a 1905 farmhouse into a modern public library. The committee faced many obstacles, but Jackie never retreated. In October 2009, her persistence paid off when the city's library opened in the renovated farmhouse. Today, she remains committed to helping the library.

Daphine Munson has volunteered in the Homewood Public Library's Friends' Bookstore two days a week, for the last eight years. When someone can't make it to work, she volunteers to work their shift when she can. The bookstore and the library benefit greatly from her efficiency and dependability. She is always there to lend a helping hand and a smile. She's been a member of the Friends of the Homewood Public Library since 1987.

Michael Krawcheck, a member of the Hoover Library Board of Trustees since 1996, is an advocate for the library and its employees. He knows all 100 employees by name, has attended more than 200 monthly meetings and special events at the library and he's been known to buy lunch for employees standing behind him in line at the library's coffee cafe. Employees and library patrons appreciate his presence and dedication.

Mary B. Undeutsch has volunteered at the Leeds Jane Culbreath Library since 2005. She works in the cataloging and circulation departments, where she stamps, tags and repairs materials; checks in books from van deliveries; and straightens shelves with ease and enthusiasm.

Vestavia Hills Public Library's People Affecting Library Success (P.A.L.S.) is made up of young mothers, who volunteer to secure thousands of dollars to help fund programming and materials in the library's children's department. For the last four years, their funding has helped make the library's summer reading program a success. Without P.A.L.S., the children's department would not be what it is today.