The staff of the Cedar Rapids Public Library has won national attention for their efforts in responding to the historic flooding that swamped the city in June. The Library Journal recognized interim library director Tamara Glise, and 10 other staff members as their "2009 Librarian of the Year."
"We are extremely excited..this is something, if you’re in the library profession, you see this magazine come out every year with the librarian of the year on it and you never ever think it could possibly be you or your staff," Glise says. Glise says it’s the first time a team has ever won the award, and she says that means a great deal as the teamwork has been wonderful.
The editor of the magazine says the efforts of the Cedar Rapids staff in the recovery "is an inspiration for Cedar Rapids and for all librarians." The work by the library staff started before the floodwaters inundate the building in downtown Cedar Rapids. Glise says prior to the flood they did a lot of work in preparing the building with sandbagging and moving materials to higher ground.
"Unfortunately those efforts didn’t do the trick as the water came in so much higher than anyone anticipated," Glise says. The flooded 84-thousand square foot building is no longer usable and the library also lost 160-thousand items, its public access computers, and its circulation and security systems. The library staff moved its operations to a shopping mall and a space of 26-hundred square feet.
Glise says they got together right after the flood and decided they needed to keep library staff employed, and that the community still needed library services. Glise says FEMA does not offer money for temporary library space, so they were on their own in finding space.
She says they had to make do with money they had in their operating budget, and were able to secure six storefronts in the mall and by the time the newest one opens in February they will be providing an adult and children’s collection, a computer lab, and the mall is allow them to use the center court for programs.
Glise says they would welcome any help they could get to restore their operation. Glise says they encourage anyone who is able to send a donation to the library at: 500 First Street Southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401. Or you can go to the Cedar Rapids Library website .
The award recognized Glise along with: adult services manager Karen Johnson, children’s services manager Carol Hoke, circulation services manager Christina Riedel, adult services coordinator Rebecca Bartlett, external communication coordinator Marie DeVries, Iowa Substance Abuse Information Center’s Barb Gay, I-T services managers Roger Rayborn and Leon Green, shelving manager Pat Schabo, and maintenance manager Jeff Krohn.