NKU Honors Five Librarians with Trailblazer Award in Lexington

For immediate release…
Wednesday – Dec. 3, 2014

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Five Kentucky librarians will receive the Northern Kentucky University Trailblazer Award for Leadership in Library Informatics at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Embassy Suites Lexington as part of the 2014 #RoadToNKU Commonwealth Tour.

The university will also recognize the winners of the Trailblazer Award for Mathematics Education.

“The Trailblazer Award is recognition of those citizens throughout the state who are changing lives through new and innovative education programs,” NKU President Geoffrey S. Mearns said.  “With improved math skills and added library capacity, Kentucky's children will be better prepared to meet the demands of this century.”

The event is open to the public and will include an opportunity for high school students and adults interested in completing their degree to meet with university admissions representatives.  

About Trailblazer Award for Leadership in Library Informatics Winners

Heather Ellis, Lexington

Heather is a non-traditional distance-learning student continuing her education at NKU.

“Like many others, I have a full time job in the academic library field and live a fair distance from NKU’s campus,” Heather said. “I decided to continue my education when I realized my associate’s degree would not get me far in today’s working arena. While taking classes at another institution, one of my professors told me about NUK’s bachelor’s degree program in library informatics — a degree that’s completely obtainable online.

“So, to go farther with my education and stay current in the ever changing library world, I applied to NKU’s program in 2010.”

Melodi Pulliam, Bourbon County

Melodi graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in library informatics from NKU, and was awarded a certificate in business informatics as one part of the library Informatics program. She has an 11-year-old autistic son and is engaged to be married next year.

“I plan on becoming a professor (instructor librarian) like so many of my wonderful professors before me, so I can teach the future librarians of this country the skills and knowledge that will help them serve the public, their students, and themselves as they go through life,” Melodi said. “It is my fondest hope and wish that I can be as influential and inspiring as the professors that inspired me.

Anne Van Willigen, Lexington

Anne recently retired from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives where she served the people of Kentucky for more than 20years, most recently as a management consultant to fifteen county public libraries. She is the co-author of Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920-1950, with her father, John Van Willigen.

Anne lives in Lexington with her husband, John Walsh, and has a college-aged daughter, Elizabeth.

Abby McCurry, Lexington

Abby is a native of Lexington and grew up involved in her neighborhood branch of the Lexington Public Library.

“I have worked for LPL for 17 years, working as a children’s librarian for 15 years, and now I am currently the assistant manager for the Central Youth Services department,” Abby said. “I am blessed with three girls, ages 10, 8 and 6 months, who help me ‘keep it real’ with the kids in the LPL system.”

Abby said she would never have been a librarian if it not for her parents who were great about taking her to the library almost every Saturday, and for Miss Lenora – her librarian.

“She opened the world of books, but most importantly, libraries to me,” Abby said. “There was never a time that I walked into the library and didn’t think she was there just for me.  And I hope that I am THAT librarian for a child someday.”

Dr. Ron Critchfield, Nicholasville

Ron is the executive director of the Jessamine County Public Library in Nicholasville. He has spent 19 years as a professional librarian, and 15 years as faculty or adjunct faculty at the college and graduate level teaching in two disciplines.  He was the winner of the 2010 ALA John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award for notable contributions to intellectual freedom and demonstrations of personal courage in defense of freedom of expression.

About the #RoadToNKU

The #RoadToNKU is a tour of community engagement activities throughout the Commonwealth. This trip to Lexington is the last of eight stops.

Find out more about the College of Informatics at http://informatics.nku.edu/.

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