Awards & Scholarships

The Mentor Connection, Finding the Next Distinguished Service Award Winner

Another ALA Annual conference is upon us offering opportunities to experience programs showcasing books and their creators, to learn about emerging service trends and to experience technology that promises to connect our young patrons to our services and collections in new and dynamic ways.  In the midst of absorbing all of this, ALSC members will be reconnecting with each other and experiencing the pleasure of renewed friendships and professional associations.  Who was responsible for your attendance at your first ALA?

My first ALA conference was in Chicago in 1976.  I would not have been there but for the encouragement and support of a librarian mentor who told me that attending and being active in ALA was part of my responsibility as a professional librarian.  While not a children’s librarian herself she supported my initial interest in the newly launched graduate program in Children’s Literature at Simmons College.  When I told her about the program she said “You’re going to apply aren’t you?”  It was not so much a question as a statement that I would complete an application, be accepted and relocate to Boston.

I had no idea when I began my studies that the program would be the catalyst for my professional life from that point on.  My membership in ALSC, its committees and programs, would become the bedrock of my professional life.  My work as a librarian in the Boston Public Library was enriched through my ALSC membership and the many committed ALSC members I encountered over the years.  My mentor gave me the vision of what my professional life could be through active involvement in ALSC and its mission to serve children, their families, caregivers and the children’s librarians in their communities.

I am certain many, if not all of you reading this blog can think of an individual who had a profound impact on your future direction in children’s services.  A person whose interest, support, and encouragement you have always remembered and been grateful for in your life.  It might have been a person who gave you the freedom to develop programs that hadn’t been done in your community and that freedom made the difference for children who didn’t know what a library could mean in their lives. Such an individual should be recognized by our profession.

Distinguished Service Award logo

Please think seriously of sending in a nomination to the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) Committee.  Both you and the person you nominate have to be ALSC members.  You can certainly contact others who know the nominee’s background and ask for help. If you are not sure of your nominee’s service in ALSC you can contact the ALSC Office and state you are completing a DSA nomination form and need additional information.  Contact or 1-800-545-2433, ext. 2163.  The deadline is December 1, 2019.

The link below has the criteria and the nomination form.  DSA Committee members Shelley Diaz, Doris Gebel, Debra Gold, and Susannah Richards would be pleased to speak with you and answer your questions.  My contact information is: Mary Beth Dunhouse, DSA chair, at  We are looking forward to your nominations:

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: Professionalism and Professional Development.

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