Giving attention to unsung heroes

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By Kirsten Laskey

There are unsung heroes in every community. Their contributions are critical but sometimes escape the public’s attention.

Librarians could fall into the category of unsung hero, but perhaps that should be corrected.

With Angie Manfredi, head of youth services for Los Alamos County Library System, participating in the Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) annual conference and the Library Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., people could be paying librarians a lot more attention, at least in Los Alamos.

After all, that is what Library Advocacy Day is all about.

“During Advocacy  Day, (library) branches around the country are meeting at Capitol Hill … basically there is a rally on Capitol Hill … and librarians speak one-on-one with representatives about the importance of libraries in their communities,” Manfredi said. “It’s a day for librarians to let the political powers know what’s going on and make a case for libraries in their communities.”

Manfredi will be in Washington, D.C. June 25-29.

This will be Manfredi’s first time participating in Library Advocacy Day and she believes the experience can be put to good use in Los Alamos and throughout the state.

She explained she provides a lot of training for librarians throughout New Mexico and she believes she will able to marry her training work with instructing others on how to be advocates for libraries.

Advocates, Manfredi said, speak up for libraries and talk about what libraries do for communities.

It’s an important role to play, she said, “Because, especially during tough economic times, libraries are a place where entire communities gather and more than ever it’s important for community leaders to know that librarians contribute to every facet of our community’s life.”

Manfredi is receiving financial assistance for this endeavor. YALSA awarded Manfredi with a $1,000 stipend to attend the rally in Washington, D.C. Only four other YALSA members received this stipend.

According to a press release from YALSA, she earned the stipend based on her commitment to young adult services, goals for attending the event, financial need and how she will apply the experience in New Mexico.

Earning the stipend was a great honor, Manfredi said.

“It’s really big honor; I was very excited,” she said.

She added she is very happy to be a member of YALSA and the stipend is  allowing her to attend Advocacy Day.

YALSA, according to the press release, has been the leader in selecting books, videos and audio books for teens for more than 50 years.  

Manfredi herself has shown a lot of dedication to the field of library science. She has worked in the county library system for three years although she joked it “feels like just yesterday” that she started.

Working at the local library system is far from the starting point in Manfredi’s career. In fact, she said the only place she has ever worked is at a library. Even during school, her after-school job was in a library.

To be able to share information with everyone in the community, especially young people, she said is “very satisfying.”