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Allan Wilson named 2011 recipient of CLA/Ken Haycock Award

For Immediate Release

(Ottawa, April 18, 2011) Allan Wilson, Chief Librarian, Prince George Public Library, has been named 2011 recipient of the CLA/Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship. This award honours individuals who have demonstrated exceptional success in enhancing public recognition and appreciation of librarianship. Wilson's inclusive, dynamic approach to raising the awareness of libraries and promoting their value - especially in northern British Columbia - placed him first in a pool of exceptional candidates for this year's award.

As Prince Rupert's Chief Librarian, Wilson proposed the development of a waterfront library and archives, and accompanying "bookboat," which promoted the novel idea of taking books and online resources to outlying First Nations communities. To engender civic interest and involvement in the proposal, Wilson created an award-winning website (now archived at http://web.archive.org/web/*/bookboat.com). He also designed "bookboat" floats for Prince Rupert's annual Seafest parade, performed skits at the local fringe festival and organized community exhibitions. Recognizing that 6'1" frame might intimidate children, Wilson even polished up his juggling skills to help them feel comfortable and enthused about the library. For this he has been dubbed "The Juggling Librarian."

Wilson's collaborative approach inspired commitment to the book boat project at local, regional and international levels. Within three years of its inception, the City of Prince Rupert unanimously approved a bylaw to establish a book boat fundraising account. Renowned American architect John Rattenbury offered to design the building, and Cisco Systems expressed interest in sponsoring it.

Although the project did not go ahead, Wilson's grassroots vision and legacy remains. For example, after he had consulted with local First Nations, Wilson commissioned a local Tsimshian artist to create a halibut-themed library card representing the North Coast. These First Nations ties even spawned a new word in Sm'algyax, the language of the Tsimshian Nation; the word is "Wap Liitsx" - meaning "House of Reading." According to one newspaper account, under Wilson's leadership, the Prince Rupert Public Library was transformed into "an interactive, living part of the community."

In his current role as Chief Librarian in Prince George, one way Wilson continues his efforts to engender community love for libraries is through mentoring others. At the Prince George Public Library, he created LEEP (Library Employee Education Program), which funds library science education for staff. In addition, over the past two decades Wilson has encouraged more than two dozen students, staff and board members to pursue studies in library science, and has mentored many more.

CLA/Ken Haycock Award committee chair Melanie Boyd says, "This award is intended to recognize activities that exceed those typically performed by librarians, no matter how meritorious. The committee unanimously agreed that Mr. Wilson's contributions go 'above and beyond', and epitomize what this award represents."

Wilson graduated from Brock University with a double major Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in German and Slavic Studies, and Russian and German literature. From the University of Toronto, he earned a Master of Library Science and a PhD in Soviet classification systems. Wilson has taught at the Niagara College of Applied Arts & Technology and the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert. At the University of Northern British Columbia he has taught Russian Imperial History. Wilson has spoken widely at CLA, the joint CLA/ALA conference and BCLA.

The CLA/Haycock Award, comprising a cheque for $1,000 and a handsome plaque, will be presented to Mr. Wilson on May 28 at the 2011 CLA National Conference and Trade Show in Halifax. The award is jointly funded by the Canadian Library Association and past CLA president, Ken Haycock.

The Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques is Canada's largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.

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Media Contact: Melanie Boyd, CLA/Haycock Award Committee Chair
maboyd@ucalgary.ca
Phone: (403) 220.3128

 


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