JCPLA Presents its 2019 Library Champion Awards

2019 JCPLA Library Champions: L-R Wardine Alexander, Gary Gerlach, Linda Coleman-Madison, Linda Chastain, Adrian Zebot, Joe Perez, and Charles Ghigna. Absent  is Tamisha Parker, who had to leave early.
The Jefferson County Public Library Association (JCPLA) on December 3 hosted its 2019 Library Champion Awards Luncheon honoring eight citizens for their support of public libraries throughout the county.

The Library Champions honored during the luncheon at the Hoover Met were as follows:

* Birmingham District 7 Councilor Wardine Alexander (nominated by Powderly Library Branch Manager Loretta Bitten)

Alexander is a former Birmingham School Board President who spent nearly a year on the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees before being appointed to the Birmingham City Council's District 7. Immediately after taking office, Alexander made it known she wanted to contribute to Powderly Branch Library in her district. She used part of her discretionary funds to provide paint, chair rails, and blinds for the library's meeting room. Alexander also provided $5,000 to purchase equipment for Powderly Library. ln November 2019, Alexander won a public election to continue serving as District 7 Councilor.

 * Linda Chastain (nominated by Matina Johnson of the Hoover Public Library)

In 1980, Chastain set up a table outside a polling location, asking citizens about the need for a Hoover library and urged the newly elected mayor to build one. When Hoover Public Library opened three years later, Chastain was one of the first volunteers to collect books for the library. More than 35 years later, Chastain remains an active supporter of the Hoover Public Library. A co-founder of the Hoover Arts Alliance, Chastain is a big supporter of the library's mission to be the arts center for the Hoover community. She also assisted in establishing a Library Gallery at City Hall, helping extend cultural service beyond its four walls.
* Linda Coleman-Madison, Alabama State Senator for District 20 (nominated by Inglenook Library Branch Manager Karnecia Williams)

Coleman-Madison, Alabama State Senator of District 20 and ADA Compliance Administrator for the City of Birmingham, has been a passionate supporter of the Birmingham Public Library for years. In 2018 and 2019, Coleman-Madison contributed a combined $19,000 to five BPL loctions in her district - North Birmingham Regional Branch, Springville Road Regional Branch, Pratt City Branch, Ensley Branch, and Iinglenook Branch. Her contributions have helped all five libraries provide even more relevant programming specific to their communities.

 * Gary Gerlach (nominated by BPL Archives Department Head Jim Baggett on behalf of the Central Library)

Gerlach has volunteered in the BPL Archives Department downtown since 2001. Coming in three days a week, he works hundreds of hours annually. In a department that is always understaffed, Gerlach provides help processing collections, creating databases, and monitoring the department's environmental conditions. He helps pack and transport new collections, cleans the department, trains interns, and assists patrons with research questions. 

 * Charles Ghigna (nominated by Deborah Fout of the Homewood Public Library)

 A nationally known poet and author known as Father Goose, Charles Ghigna is a Homewood resident who has provided numerous free programs for the Homewood Public Library for years. He has done poetry readings, taught a session at an annual conference, and even starred in a float one year in the Homewood Christmas Parade. On December 14, the Homewood Public Library will feature Ghigna in a celebration of Alabama's 200th birthday.

An avid library user, Ghigna does much of his book research at the Homewood Public Library. He often debuts his books at the library, hosting programs that draw large crowds of all ages and generate positive publicity for the Homewood Public Library in publications and on social media.

 * Tamisha Parker (nominated by Allison Scanlan of the Pinson Public Library)

Parker was one of the main organizers who urged the creation of the Pinson Public Library and has served on its board of directors since it began in 2011, A recent retiree of Rudd Middle School, students told Parker they wanted Pinson to have its own public library and she helped them organize a campaign to build it. Since joining the library board, Parker has helped library staff form relationships with local schools. Parker is passionate about ESL education and helps the library reach out to Pinson's Latino population.  She is a strong advocate for the library in the community and city.

 * Joe Perez (nominated by April Moon on behalf of the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest)

A longtime supporter of Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest, Perez through his ownership of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop has provided bird seed monthly for the numerous bird feeders located throughout the wooded property. His bird feed attracts a variety of birds and squirrels, giving patrons an up-close view of the beautiful creatures.

Perez gives to the library with little fanfare and no expectation of attention, showing up unannounced with a huge bag of bird seed over his shoulder. Besides supporting the library, Perez volunteeers with the Vestavia Chamber of Commerce and in Leadership Vestavia Hills.

 * Adrian Zebot of the Junior Women Committee of 100 (nominated by Lindsy Gardner of the Emmet O'Neal Public Library)

Zebot is president of the Junior Women's Committee of 100, a group of mothers dedicated to supporting the Children's Department of Emmet O'Neal Library. Since 1970, the JWC has championed library services and donated over $700,000 to support innovation in the Children's Department.

JWC's primary fundraising event is the Summer Reading Kickoff Carnival, a family-friendly event  in its 45th year that includes a fun run and  50 creative carnival games.   About 600 children attended this year and over 300 registered to participate in Summer Reading. Zebot and her fellow JWC members volunteer hundreds of hours supporting the Children's Department every year.