2023 FLA Award Winners

Library of the Year
Pasco County Library System

The Pasco County Library System provides innovative services, materials, programs, instructional classes, and informational events relevant to their populations. Most notably, the creative development of their library spaces has earned them the Library of the Year award. An ambitious makerspace initiative with heavy citizen input has added a custom makerspace to almost every library branch in the system. From ‘The Foundry’ woodshop at the Land O’ Lakes Library to the ‘Regency Fresh Test Kitchen’ in New Port Richey, citizens now have open access spaces to gather, learn new skills, and share ideas. The system’s newest branch, the Starkey Ranch Theatre Library Cultural Center, has multiple makerspaces and a 250-seat theater shared with the K-8 school next door. These unique spaces and their top-quality staff promote access to information, community, education, and culture throughout Pasco County and provide a blueprint of the 21st century Florida library. 

Librarian of the Year
Dr. Edenia Hernandez

Dr. Edenia Hernandez is a passionate government and library leader who has spent the past 25 years dedicated to her work in libraries. Edenia has served in various roles in municipal government and education and currently works as library director for the City of North Miami Beach. During her tenure, she has increased library visits by 65%. Over the past year Edenia delivered over $200,000.00 worth of grant funding that allowed her library to support innovative technologies and the educational and financial development of the community. She is committed to her profession and participates in many associations, including the Municipal Library Directors Group, SEFLIN, FLA, ALA, and PLA. Her work to improve literacy has spread beyond Florida. She has been commended by the University of Hong Kong, the Department of Immigration and Culture in Peru, and the Spanish Ministry of Culture. Edenia embodies the best of librarianship in Florida and beyond.


Lifetime Achievement Award
Bernadette Storck

Bernadette Storck lived an extraordinary life of achievement which has touched nearly every corner of our state. Ms. Storck has served as a public librarian, a consultant, an archivist, and a faculty member for the University of South Florida’s School of Information cultivating new generations of librarians to defend intellectual freedom and access to information. She was an important decision maker serving as an administrator for Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System and Leon County Public Library. She helped to create the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, expanding access to libraries by growing the Cooperative which is now comprised of 14 library members. Moreover, she was a tireless advocate for the Florida Library Association, serving as President 1980-1981, and curating the archives of the Florida Library Association. Storck’s name can be found on buildings, donations, and scholarships, including the Association’s University of South Florida scholarship. 


Outstanding New Librarian
Katharine Fintak

Since receiving her MLIS, Katharine Fintak has had a major impact in her community, her library system, and her state. She has proposed and implemented highly innovative new programs for teens, including a weekly book club to work with at risk or incarcerated teens throughout Palm Beach County and visits to juvenile detention centers to meet the needs of all the county’s residents. Fintak has also overseen the successful implementation of a TikTok Content Workshop and Video Challenge, and an “Art Starts” program for ages 0-4.  In addition to these individual tasks, she has demonstrated an understanding of the need for collaborative work through her work as a member of the YALSA TeenTober Interest Group, as a YALSA Teen Top Teen Book Group Advisor, a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA interdivisional Committee on School/Public Library Cooperation, and finally through her work for the Association as a member of the Conference Planning Committee. 


Outstanding Paraprofessional
Joseph C. Dellosa

Joseph Dellosa is a dedicated and passionate Library Associate IV at the Southbay branch of the Palm Beach County Library System. His passion for intellectual freedom and free access is well known and demonstrated through the variety of meaningful programming he’s presented in his local community. Joseph ensures that all members of the Glades area and beyond are well served with activities such as story times at daycare centers for migrant and low-income families, organizing virtual story times with the Palm Beach School district, and even hosted several information sessions for potential MLIS students about their academic possibilities. Overall, Joseph Dellosa exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding library employee.


Betty Davis Miller 12 & Under Services
Broward County Library

When the pandemic kept physical library spaces inaccessible far longer than anticipated, the Broward County Library responded to the specialized needs of its community by moving essential programming online. One such group were the deaf or hearing impaired, who no longer had access to in-person American Sign Language (ASL) classes, which became increasingly important as protective measures made visual and auditory cues difficult to understand.  The Broward County Library System especially through the work of Youth Services Librarian Vivi Colondres reached out to funding sources and community partners to establish a virtual ASL class called ASL Online to continue serving the needs of the hearing impaired through excellent curriculum created by experts and impressive attendance that only grew as the program continued. This innovative program gave essential skills and a welcoming space to practice ASL and stay connected with the community. 


Library Innovation
Joshua Hulford

Joshua Hulford played a pivotal role in creating, marketing, and implementing Palm Beach County Library’s National Novel Writing Month. The innovative, all-ages program masterfully mixed virtual and in-person resources to break the code of writing for future authors and hobbyist challenging participants to write 50,000 words of their novel in 30 days. National Novel Writing Month featured writing workshops, public discussions and author talks that reached audiences locally, nationally, and even internationally. Ever mindful of underrepresented groups, and their struggle, Joshua focused on making the program accessible to all in 2022 asking for input from voices the diverse voices within his library system represented within his library system and ensuring that there were more Spanish language writing workshops for Palm Beach County Library’s large Spanish speaking community.


Better Davis Miller Teen Services Award 
Palm Beach County Library

The Palm Beach County Library System is being recognized for its annual comic con event, DeweyCon. The annual free comic con event provides a variety of innovative, diverse, and inclusive activities, including cultural creations, board game demos, and book presentations from national book award winners, and creates a safe space for young adults ages 13-18. Marketing efforts include radio interviews, press releases, and flyers. Over the past three years, the event has attracted a total of 1,832 attendees and over 4,000 materials have been distributed to attendees. Despite funding limitations, the DeweyCon Planning Committee has successfully established community partnerships and developed a network of supporters to make the event possible.


Excellence in Public Relations and Marketing 
Palm Beach County Library

The Palm Beach County Library is well deserving of the Excellence in Public Relations and Marketing award! The library system’s educational social media campaign “The Library Elves Huey & Holly’s Adventure Around Palm Beach County” employed elves Huey and Holly to conduct photoshoots at 19 different county agencies. The purpose of each photoshoot was to explain the purpose of the agency in the form of a poem to potential customer and build cross agency cooperation and understanding. Their successful campaign exceeded clearly defined goals, increasing social media followers resulting in increased attendance in children, teen and adult activities and building strong connections within the Palm Beach County government.


Exemplary Instructional Program
Orange County Library System

The Orange County Library System’s BizKids Club program is an excellent example of the impact of innovative library programs on a community and is the well-deserved recipient of the Exemplary Instructional Programs or Service Award. The BizKids Club is a youth entrepreneurship program for students ages 9-14.  Through a series of eight, 2-hour sessions students develop the skills needed to evaluate business ideas, create a business plan, design marketing materials, and pitch their business ideas to others. In fiscal year 2021-2022, 25 8-session clubs were offered with 134 young entrepreneurs in attendance. Results indicated that the experience helped participating youth in the following ways: the experience helped them learn math; gave them confidence; improved knowledge and passion for business; taught responsibility, focus, marketing, sales and how to showcase their talents; gave kids experience in running a business and interacting with the public; and provided opportunities for kids to reflect on how to improve their products.


Library Web Presence 
Florida State University Libraries

The Library Web Presence Award goes to Florida State University (FSU) Libraries for many reasons!  For example, the new library homepage and landing pages offer a streamlined and simplified experience for users. It is visually consistent with a uniform color scheme and uses standard images that are easily recognized. In addition, the website is optimized for mobile users and supports an equitable user experience. This was accomplished through multiple iterations of user-interviews, using the most recent standards in UX. The color scheme maintains visual consistency with proper contrast for those with low vision. Additional accessibility features include alt-text for images and keyboard-only navigation. Furthermore, the content was reviewed for clarity, accuracy, voice & jargon, and design. The new home page acts as a switch board, helping users reach the resources they need quickly and efficiently. Library websites are integral to connecting with and serving the academic needs of users in an increasingly flexible higher education environment and the redesigned FSU Libraries website sets an example for others to follow. 


Friends, Foundations and Boards Outstanding Member
Bonnie Martin

Bonnie Martin is a dedicated community member who has made significant contributions to the families of New Port Richey and surrounding areas through her time, actions, talents, and dedication. She is a role model for compassion and service, helping others without regard for recognition. Bonnie has served on the NPR Library Advisory Board as secretary for three years and championed the Friends of the Library Group by becoming the Board’s President. Under her leadership, the Friends have experienced tremendous growth and success, with a substantial increase in personal and business memberships, programming, fundraising, social events, and enriching opportunities for Library Members, Library Staff, and the community. The Friends of the Library have sponsored various professional development opportunities for staff as well as team-building opportunities. Bonnie has inspired the Friends to find new ways to support the library and the community, so there is never a shortage of ideas and there is never a bad idea!


Outstanding Citizen
Faith Wilpon

Faith Wilpon is a dedicated advocate for libraries and literacy. Her years of commitment to the North Miami Beach Library include volunteering her time with her therapy dog "Little Dude" who serves as literacy ambassador for the library. Faith and Little Dude make appearances at City of North Miami Beach events to engage with elected officials and decision-makers, taking these opportunities to highlight the library's impact on youth and advocate for further funding on the library’s behalf. She has also nominated the library and its director for various awards, including Love Your Librarian and Employee of the Year, and has helped secure funding for a new children's room computer desk. Faith's efforts have helped raise the profile of the library and its programs in the community.


Friends Newsletter of the Year
Friends of the Library of Alachua County

The Friends of the Library of Alachua County continue to set the bar high for Friends’ newsletters winning this distinguish award two years in a row. For the second year in a row, Judges were impressed by a strong Friends group bringing to life a vibrant library system and community through professional photography, masterful copywriting, and successful project management. The eight-page, quarterly newsletter spotlights library staff and Friends members, highlights library programs, and calls to attention relevant library databases to educate library patrons. Through their supportive efforts, especially this newsletter, the Friends of the Library of Alachua County show how not only how a library can support a community, but how a community can support its library. 


Libraries Mean Business
Broward County Library

Broward County Library has worked diligently to assist un- and/or underemployed members by providing literacy, citizenship, homework help, and employability workshops through their program, BCL to Go: Workforce Ready. The goal of this initiative is to provide job seekers living in the six zip codes with the highest unemployment in Broward County with valuable resources to help them secure employment. A key part of this initiative is to provide access to hotspots and tablets evening the playing field and allowing all Broward County residents, including those in these targeted zip codes a fair chance to have gainful employment. This project originally started during the COVID-19 pandemic and has blossomed, ensuring that thousands of their residents are empowered and employed. 

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Outstanding Scholarly Contribution
Jessica Szempruch & Katrina Block

Jessica Szempruch and Katrina Block successfully ran the Virtual Book Club at the University of South Florida. The award-winning program fostered the joy of reading and demonstrated the value of the University of South Florida’s library services by bringing students together to stay connected and recreate a sense of community which was absent without on-campus activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Szempruch and Block not content with keeping the secret of their success to themselves, published a timely and relevant article titled “Virtual Book Club: Impactful Library Programming at a Distance through Co-Curricular Collaboration” in the Journal of Library and Information services in Distance learning to help empower other academic libraries better engage with their students by meeting and identifying student needs.