by David Ammons | April 5th, 2012
Laura Sherbo of the Washington State Library is the 2012 recipient of a prestigious national award for her exemplary leadership of the branch libraries that serve Washington prison inmates and state mental hospital patients.
The award is from the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies, a division of the American Library Association. The award honors a professional who “exemplifies leadership and achievement in consulting, library cooperation, networking, statewide service and programs, and/or state library development.”
Sherbo, branch library services manager, is described by the colleagues who nominated her as “accomplishing miracles” on a shoestring budget to bring important resources to the prisons and to Western State Hospital near Tacoma and Eastern State Hospital near Spokane. State Librarian Rand Simmons and others praised her “tenacity, calm and focused negotiation and strategic communication skills.”
Her leadership skills and ability lead staff during a time of severe cutbacks, layoffs and closures have been nothing short of inspiring, said Secretary of State Sam Reed, whose office includes the State Library and who makes it a point to visit the branches across the state. The institutional branch libraries and agency branches are an oasis for the patrons and provide exceptional service, he said.
“Laura richly deserves this award and the recognition from her peers nationally,” Reed said.
“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 Master’s Degree 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 until 2002, when she was appointed head of branch library services.