Sedgwick saluted as top librarian

Duane Hicks

The chief librarian and CEO of the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre was honoured as Public Librarian of the Year for 2011 by the Ontario Library Boards’ Association last week.
Margaret Sedgwick was presented with the W.J. Robertson Medallion for outstanding leadership in the advancement of public library services in Ontario on Thursday in Toronto at the annual public library awards dinner held in conjunction with the Ontario Library Association’s annual “Super Conference” (Feb. 2-5).
“I am very honoured to receive this prestigious award,” Sedgwick said Monday, having just returned from the conference.
Sedgwick was nominated for the award by Arlene Georgeson, vice-chair of the Fort Frances Public Library board, who credited Sedgwick for her dedication in getting the new Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre built.
“For the past 15 years, Margaret’s focus has been a new library building for Fort Frances,” Georgeson wrote in her nomination.
“During the past three years, that focus was intensified, beginning with a fundraising campaign that raised over $865,000 in a town with a population of less than 9,000,” she noted.
“Then came the grant writing, the planning, the hundreds of hours in meetings, and hurdle after hurdle culminating in the idea of not just a new library building, but a Library Technology Centre, focusing on the new public library as it exists in the 21st century,” Georgeson added.
Sedgwick’s contributions towards the building of the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre were many, and throughout the project she was “open, adaptable, inviting, and stubborn,” continued Georgeson.
“She would stand solidly on topics dear to her heart and the hearts of patrons, but would offer inspiration and encouragement at times when there was doubt and disappointment.
“And no one involved in its completion will forget the smile on Margaret’s face at the grand opening, giving heartfelt thanks to everyone involved, praising her staff, the library board, all levels of government and individuals too numerous to remember.
“It’s Margaret’s contagious
enthusiasm, her concern for libraries as a whole, that makes us most proud,” Georgeson concluded.
“The next generation of librarians will most certainly have to look to the efforts of our librarian [Margaret] to see how far they can go.”
In her acceptance speech, Sedgwick said the building of the new Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre “has certainly been the highlight of my career.”
“While planning for the new facility, each year for at least the past seven years when we came to the warm south for OLA, my board chair and I would rent a car and visit new or renovated libraries within driving distance of Toronto,” she noted.
“Over the years, we visited, and sometimes re-visited, over 55 libraries. The connections and friendships we made with those visits is testimony to the generosity and sharing nature of the library community,” Sedgwick said.
Sedgwick graduated from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Western Ontario in 1977 and her first job out of school was chief librarian of the Fort Frances Public Library, where she’s remained ever since.
“As we all know, libraries are always changing and evolving,” said Sedgwick. “That’s why it wasn’t difficult to stay in the same position throughout my career.
“We all work to make our libraries the best they can be and right now, I can honestly say right at this moment, Fort Frances is close to the top of the heap,” she added.
“Now comes the challenge to continue to grow and advance.
“I would like to extend a warm welcome to everyone planning a trip to Western Canada to stop by and visit our beautiful new facility,” concluded Sedgwick.
“It’s worth the trip.”
The award is named after William John Robertson, a founding member of the OLBA and among the 33 “originals” who established the first constitution at the first annual meeting of the association in April, 1901.
Robertson became the fourth OLBA president in 1905, and was the first trustee to be elected into the position.
Robertson was twice chair of the St. Catharines Free Library Board.
The W.J. Robertson Medallion recognizes and honours significant contributions to the library profession.
The president of the association always presents the medallion at the annual public library awards dinner held in conjunction with the annual “Super Conference.”
The OLBA receives nominations for the award, with selection of the successful candidate based on significant contributions in at least one of the following criteria:
•demonstrated innovation in the advancement of the library profession;
•promotion of library services through any means of dissemination of information;
•demonstrated creative uses of technology in the delivery of library and information services; and
•creation of original work, regardless of the medium used, which substantially contributes to the improvement of library services.