NORTH BEND – One local librarian has received the title of 2017 District Librarian of the Year.
The honor went to Laurie Nordahl with the North Bend School District by the Oregon Association of School Libraries, a group of professional librarians and media specialists throughout the state.
“This is the highest award given by the OASL, which each year honors only one exemplary district librarian,” OASL stated in a press release this week.
The release went on to say that of the many nominations received this year, Nordahl stood out due to her “depth and breadth of her professional experience and leadership, and her development and support of her district library program.”
Of the honor, Nordahl told The World that she is both overwhelmed and overjoyed.
“I'm so excited,” she said. “The response during the faculty meeting, when our superintendent announced it, was overwhelming. I work hard to make libraries a good place for people and I feel this affirms that work.”
Nordahl has been a librarian for 26 years, having spent 18 of those years with the North Bend School District. One of the aspects of her work that made her stand out among the other nominations, she believes, is her involvement with committees and efforts to always have her thumb on the pulse of what is happening in education.
“I pay attention to what is coming down from the Oregon Department of Education, changes in departments, so we can better support our kids and improve the resources we provide to them,” she said.
Throughout her career, Nordahl said she has had the pleasure of working with top notch librarians, “some who are visionaries,” that could easily win the same award. However, not only does she work hard to keep libraries up-to-date, but she has a strong focus on literacy by teaching students to not just read, but to love reading.
“Some people say libraries are becoming obsolete, but in truth it is just the opposite,” she said. “They are the great equalizers for people who can't afford books. We promote reading, which is vital for critical thinking, problem solving, and it teaches compassion because when you read a book you get into people's heads and see things from their points of view. As a librarian, you can't lose sight of that. In the library, students get free choice, the choice to choose what they want to read and through that freedom they learn to love reading.”
Not only that, but in a time where “alternative facts” are being confused as real facts, Nordahl said it is up to librarians to help teach students how to decipher truth from fiction.
“It goes back to information literacy,” she said. “It's important for our kids these days, with the bombardment of information coming at them, to be able to discern their sources. So many rely on social media, which perpetuates alternate facts and rumors, and we need to teach them how to search for themselves and discern that information on their own. That's a big part of what librarians do.”
Though her work is essential in quality education, she also focuses on making libraries safe havens in schools.
“I want the library to be the most welcoming place in the school,” she said. “Students need to leave with a smile on their face.”
Nordahl will be honored during an evening reception at the OASL Fall Conference in Portland on Oct. 14.