Laura Sherbo, branch library services program manager at the Washington State Library, is the 2012 recipient of the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) Leadership and Professional Achievement Award – an annual award presented to an ASCLA member who exemplifies leadership and achievement in consulting, library cooperation, networking, statewide service and programs and/or state library development.
According to her colleagues at the Washington State Library and leaders of institutional libraries in the State of Washington, Sherbo has accomplished miracles in the world of library services for incarcerated populations with her tenacity, her calm and focused negotiation and strategic communication skills. Her leadership skills and her efforts to foster collaboration and engineer change have helped maintain a high level of service and staff performance even in the face of seemingly insurmountable changes. For two decades, the Institutional Services Division of the Washington State Library has endured budget cuts that laid off staff and closed branches. Despite these challenges, Sherbo inspired her team to re-prioritize library functions to meet the most critical needs of those institutionalized in correctional facilities, including uniformity of branch library procedures and an emphasis on collection development in parenting, substance abuse recovery, job training and employment.
During her tenure, Sherbo has also encouraged her staff to pursue training and projects that would benefit host institutions and library services. This encouragement has produced presentations at library conferences, visiting institutional services librarians, volunteering at host institutions for reading programs and historical preservation efforts, a library-sponsored book club and a pilot law library program. Under her leadership, Sherbo’s division team has achieved goals that exemplify the Library Bill of Rights, including privacy protection and access to interests, information from various viewpoints and enlightenment for all persons of the library community. For her successful efforts, she is well respected by the prison administrators and among the offender populations served by the libraries.
“Laura Sherbo has dedicated her professional career to ensuring that inmates of correctional centers and patients at two state hospitals receive the highest quality library services,” said ASCLA President Norma Blake. “Because of her inspirational leadership, libraries flourish in Washington’s major prisons.”
Sherbo earned her MLS from Western Michigan University. She worked as the head librarian at Logan Correctional Center, Lincoln, Ill. (1978-82) and subsequently as a librarian and branch manager at McNeil Island Corrections Center, McNeil Island, Wash. until 2002, when she took on her current role as branch library services program manager.
Sherbo will receive her award at the ASCLA/COSLA Networking Party and Awards Reception, which will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 23, 2012 at one of the ALAAnnual Conference hotels in Anaheim, Calif. All conference attendees are invited to this event, which will celebrate this year’s ASCLA award winners and also feature peer-to-peer networking activities. More information will be available at www.ala.org/ascla in late spring.