"As the President of the Black Caucus, Kelvin Watson, Chief Operating Officer of the Queens Public Library, was introducing the Demco Award, he said the winner does not know that they will receive this award," said Dr. Yvonne Chandler as she explained her initial reaction to Sunday night's events. "I was stunned as Janet Nelson, the Director of Library Engagement and Solutions at Demco and a friend from Texas Library Association began reading the recipients bio - my bio. I was sitting there looking around the room for who else was from Birmingham, AL. When I heard PhD from Michigan I just lost it. It was a total surprise!"
Associate Professor, Dr. Yvonne Chandler is the 2016 recipient of the Demco/ALA Black Caucus Award for Excellence in Librarianship. The award recognizes significant accomplishments that promote the status of African American librarians in the profession, or the development and implementation of resources and services for the African American community. Demco presents the winning librarian with a $500 check and a commemorative statue, and makes an additional $500 to the BCALA Scholarship Fund in the winner's name.
The award ceremony was held on Sunday, June 26 during the American Library Association Annual conference in Orlando, FL. Langston Bates, Business Development Manager/ Research Analyst at Kiewit, wrote Dr. Chandler's introduction and brought her forward to receive the award. Bates, a UNT LIS graduate and Dr. Chandler's former teaching assistant was in on the surprise, calling her to ensure she was on time and even offering to pick her up. “You know how you are, I’ll come and get you Dr. C," Langston said to her that evening.
Dr. Chandler goes on to describe her reaction and emotions throughout the night:
"With the help of Langston I made it to the microphone and looked out on the audience to see so many of my friends and colleagues from all phases of my life. They had all been told that I was the recipient and asked to be in the audience. I was so happy to see Pat Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Library Association and her husband David Smith; my master’s degree classmate from Atlanta University, Wayne Crocker, Director of the Petersburg, VA Public Library; other Atlanta University graduates including David Thrash, Director of the Brazoria County Library System in Texas and my first cousin, Yolanda Jones, Director of the Florida A&M University Law School Library in Orlando; Julius Jefferson from the Library of Congress and the ALA Executive Board and Presidential Task Force for Julie Todaro that we are committee co-chairs; UNT graduates including Michelle Morris; old colleagues from the Atlanta Public Library; my ALA buddies and friends, and so many others that I can’t name. I was also so happy that I received the award in the presence of three librarians from the Charleston Public Library representing Cynthia G. Hurd, victim of the Charleston shooting in 2015 and a branch manager with that system, who was also being recognized. This was so special to me because Cynthia and I have three very important things in common: both alumni of Clark Atlanta University, sorority sisters in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and librarians. My career and professional voice is grounded in the philosophy of both those institutions – to assist others to find and achieve their dreams. I’ve talked with colleagues of Cynthia and know that she worked in the Charleston community and in her libraries to provide access and services to help children find and reach their potential. I was most happy to be recognized with Cynthia, my colleague and sister."
"I'm floating on air from all the congratulations and good wishes that I have received from friends, colleagues, classmates, and graduates; including more than 121 comments and 318 likes on Facebook. I can only say what my friends in Hawaii have taught me to say: Mahalo nui loa (Thank you very much).”
The LIS family congratulates Dr. Chandler on this award and thanks her for her continued support to the library profession and the African American community!