The Women’s National Book Association has presented the WNBA Award since 1940 to a living woman who has gone above and beyond in her support of books. In honor of the WNBA Centennial, two woman were selected to be honored by the WNBA Award committee: Dr. Carla Hayden and Louise Erdrich. Both have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to books; Hayden through her work with libraries and library patrons, and Erdrich through her authorship and bookstore.
On November 7th at the Pen + Brush gallery, members of the Women’s National Book Association New York and National chapters personally presented Dr. Carla Hayden with the 2017 WNBA Award honoring her for her work as a librarian in Chicago and Baltimore, her leadership as president of the American Library
Association (2003-04) and her role as the fourteenth Librarian of Congress (2016-present).
Jane Kinney-Denning, President of the WNBA Executive Board, welcomed everyone to the event, including Dr. Hayden’s mother, Colleen Hayden, by giving a brief history of the Women’s National Book Association and all the organization has accomplished in the past 100 years.
Valerie Tomaselli, co-editor of the WNBA Centennial publication, spoke about the history of the WNBA Award and the past woman who have been honored, including Anne Caroll Moore (1940), Eleanor Roosevelt (1961), Nancy Pearl (2004), and Masha Hamilton (2010), among others. Tomaselli also presented copies of the upcoming publication of Women in the Literary Landscape: A Centennial Publication of the Women’s National Book Association to Hayden and her guests.
Rosalind Reisner, co-editor with Tomaselli of the WNBA Centennial book, presented the WNBA Award to Hayden, reading the calligraphed inscription:
The Women’s National Book Association presents the 2017 Centennial WNBA Award to
In recognition of her commitment to making libraries relevant, responsive, and vital to the communities they serve;
For her service as fourteenth Librarian of Congress;
For her service to the people of Baltimore as CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, during which she increased access, developed after-school programs, and made libraries community gathering placed in difficult times, resulting in being named Librarian of the Year;
For her service as President of the American Library Association in 2003-2004;
For her demonstrated commitment to the privacy of library users and equity of access;
WNBA is proud to honor the exceptional book woman, whose work has gone above and beyond the duties of her profession to serve as a beacon to women and men, to people of color, and to the transformative power of books.
Dr. Hayden thanked everyone for their kind words and said she already had plans of where she would place the award in her office; she then thanked her mother for reading to her so much as a child. Hayden recalled coming home after her first day of school at age six and telling her mother that she had learned to read. Her mother thought she was humoring her by asking her to sit and read from several books, but, after reading a few lines from different books, it was apparent that she was telling the truth; Dr. Hayden was subsequently promoted by her teacher to the second grade! Dr. Hayden credited her love of books to her mother and the foundation she gave her in the years that they read together. The anecdote Dr. Hayden shared conveys how the education and support of literacy can lead to the empowerment of individuals and in turn their communities. The WNBA Award recognizes and celebrates those achievements as part of the WNBA’s overarching mission of “Connecting, Educating, Advocating, & Leading Since 1917.”
Laurel Stokes is a Client Support Manager for Penguin Random House Publisher Services. She is responsible for supporting several Client Publishers, and specializes in project management and solving operational issues. Laurel has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Mount Holyoke College. She lives in New York City.