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School Librarians of Rhode Island 2017 Award Winners Announced

RHODE ISLAND - MARCH 2017 - School Librarians of Rhode Island (SLRI) have announced the 2017 recipients of the following awards:

  • Maurice Tougas Award: Alyssa Taft of Middletown. The Tougas Award recognizes exceptional achievements and leadership potential among the graduating class of URI’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS). Taft is a research assistant for MediaSmart Libraries, vice president of URI’s Student American Library Association, and the student representative for SLRI.

    In her application essay, Taft wrote of the importance not just of “career and college readiness” for students, but of “citizen readiness.” To that end, she believes the role of a school librarian includes giving “future citizens the tools to understand our government, distinguish credible information from unreliable information, recognize propaganda and fake news, and participate meaningfully and ethically in our democracy.”

  • Mini-Grant: Susan Murphy, North Kingstown resident and librarian at Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School in Coventry. Murphy plans to create a “Coding Corner” to support both curriculum and recreational interest in coding. In her application, she wrote: “With the national efforts on providing STEAM classes in tandem with Rhode Island initiative CS4RI, students at all grade levels in my school now take a trimester or semester STEAM class” in coding, robotics, or engineering.


    Murphy will stock the repurposed space with magazines, books, instructional documents, and Raspberry Pi 3 kits, along with comfortable seating for individuals or small groups. She states, “The Coding Corner will encourage a blended learning approach to coding, [which] supports the diverse learning styles of students and the mission of the Media Center to help students become lifelong learners."


  • Wilfred Berube Award for Administrative Excellence: Principal Beth Cauley of George R. Hanaford Elementary School in East Greenwich.
    This award recognizes a school administrator who has provided not only vocal advocacy for but also tangible aid to school library programs and services. Librarian Beth Gorter nominated Cauley, whose support “for our media center as a growing hub and heart of our school has been unwavering since I started there 5 years ago. She has allowed me the responsibility and freedom to build a flexible schedule that supports all areas of the curriculum."

    Cauley understands that the role of a school librarian is that of “an educator, and as more than a ‘specialist’ or planning period.” Gorter noted that she hears stories from colleagues across the state about getting pulled to substitute for other classes, having their budgets appropriated for other initiatives, and being forced out of their library classrooms for testing or other events. “This is not the case for me. Beth is my biggest supporter, a champion of our library program… I realize how very lucky I am to have her."



Rhode Island Chief Innovation Officer Richard Culatta, who addressed SLRI conference attendees, stated that librarians are “the biggest untapped resources in schools” for “reinventing what school does and looks like.” He listed ways in which libraries are already serving as innovation hubs: supporting personalized learning, fostering problem-solving skills, replacing textbooks with open license materials tailored for individuals, teaching digital citizenship, and rethinking physical learning spaces.


About SLRI - www.slri.info - @SchLibRI

The purpose of School Librarians of Rhode Island shall be to (1) promote the improvement of instruction through opportunities that broaden the professional knowledge, understanding, and experience of its members; (2) provide leadership in defining, interpreting, and promoting effective library media programs to the community; and (3) serve as facilitator between the State Department of Education, Office of Library and Information Services, professional organizations, and the general public.

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Contact: Meredith Moore / mercolleen@gmail.com / 401-440-1053






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