The 2014 Oregon Library Association’s “Librarian of the Year Award” recently was given to the Deschutes Public Library’s Youth Services Manager Heather McNeil.
McNeil received the award at the annual conference luncheon in late April. OLA’s “Librarian of the Year” is awarded to the nominee that demonstrates excellence in library service in his or her community and to Oregon libraries.
McNeil has served as the Youth Services Manager for the Deschutes Public Library since March 1999 and has been a librarian for 36 years. . During that time, she has led the way for creative programming for youth and provided varied learning opportunities for Early Literacy statewide.
“Heather’s dedication, spirit, and passion have helped to build the Deschutes Public Library’s youth services into one of Oregon’s premier programs,” said Deschutes Public Library Director Todd Dunkelberg. “We are very proud and honored to have such a talented employee whose daily work greatly enhances the lives of children, parents, teachers, and caregivers throughout Deschutes County.”
McNeil has oversees Library Linx, a program that provides access to public library materials in the schools. The program now includes 25 schools throughout Central Oregon. She continues to do weekly Toddler Times at the Downtown Bend Library. McNeil also serves as a Master Trainer for the Every Child Ready to Read national program that advocates and trains librarians regarding the importance of early literacy.
McNeil previously served on the esteemed Newbery Medal Committee, the American Library Association’s Wilder Committee and the Notable Recordings Committee. And, she has long been an advocate for intellectual freedom, a driving tenet of public libraries, and is recognized for her work at the national level.
“Bringing children and reading together is so exciting. If I can help a parent discover fun ways to encourage learning to read, or help a child find his or her passions in a book, then I know that being a librarian makes a positive difference. And I do know that, every day.”
McNeil is the author of two great collections of folk tales: Celtic Breeze: stories of the otherworld from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales and Hyena and the Moon: stories to tell from Kenya. Her most recent book helps support the cause of early literacy across the country: Read, Rhyme, and Romp: early literacy skills and activities for librarians, teachers, and parents.