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Kent District Library Director named Top Librarian in the Nation


KDL Library Director Lance Werner

Lance Werner, executive director of Kent District Library, has been named the top librarian in the nation by Library Journal.

The 2018 Librarian of the Year award honors a professional librarian among nominees from across the country for outstanding achievement and accomplishments reflecting the loftiest service goals of the library profession. Werner was recognized for his strong leadership, effective legislative advocacy and championing access for his over 200,000 patrons in Kent County.

Werner is the first–and only–Michigan librarian to win the Librarian of the Year award.

“My version of leadership is to get the best people I can, give them what they need and then get out of their way,” Werner said. “I’m one gear in a big machine where everyone is important.” Werner credits this philosophy as a cornerstone to building strong advocacy among his team, municipalities, strategic partners and patrons. 

Under Werner’s leadership, Kent District Library:

• Championed access for all by becoming the first public library in the state to offer e-magazines, e-movies, e-comics and streaming video games free of charge.

• Extended the reach of technology by circulating iPads and wireless hotspots community-wide.

• Installed a collection of Little Free Libraries around Kent County. There are currently 14, which are housed in community centers, senior centers, parks and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

• Opened a branch in Kelloggsville High School, which will be a community library outside of school hours.

• Began offering healthcare for part-time employees.

• Partnered with other West Michigan libraries to collect 50,000 library materials for the Port Arthur Public Library, a Texas library devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

• Launched a statewide short story contest called Write Michigan, now in its 6th year, which most recently drew more than 900 submissions from children, teens, adults and Spanish-language writers.

• Provided books for military troops stationed in the Middle East.

• Trained all staff members in first aid and CPR.

• Launched adult program series highlighting beer (KDaLe), wine (KDL Uncorked) and coffee (KDL Caffeinated).

• Partnered with The Geek Group and other local organizations to offer innovative programming, including STEM initiatives.

“Working with Lance is exciting,” said Michelle Boisvenue-Fox, KDL’s director of innovation and user experience. “I admire that he has respect for all of our staff and genuinely wants to do the best for our patrons and communities. This shows in the relationships he has grown over the years and our efforts to grow our KDL family to include more and more community groups.”

Werner builds his life around three pillars: kindness, empathy and love.

“I don’t feel like I have a job, it’s more of a calling,” Werner explained. “I’m so blessed to do work that I love, with those that I love, for those that I love. I consider myself a public servant and want to add to the greater good and touch the lives of future generations.”

Werner has been director of Kent District Library since May 2011. He previously served as director of the Capital Area District Library in Lansing and as a library law specialist at the Library of Michigan. He earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, a law degree from Michigan State University and a master’s of library information systems from Wayne State University.

“As the 30th recipient of the LJ Librarian of the Year award, Lance exemplifies the dynamism and keen intelligence we expect in a winner,” said Rebecca T. Miller, editorial director of Library Journal and School Library Journal. “His deep understanding of the importance of building and nurturing strong relationships at all levels has resulted in improved service for his community, enhanced benefits for the Kent District Library staff, and improved the outlook for libraries across Michigan. We are very excited to name him LJ’s 2018 Librarian of the Year.” 

Werner will receive a $1,500 cash prize and is featured in Library Journal’s January 2018 issue, available in print and online. Werner was previously a 2016 LJ Mover & Shaker and 2017 Michigan Library Association Librarian of the Year.

About Kent District Library

Kent District Library is a public library system operating 18 branch libraries that serve nearly 400,000 residents of 27 different municipalities throughout Kent County. KDL is an IRS-designed 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by millage dollars and private donations. KDL is a member of the Lakeland Library Cooperative. For more, visit kdl.org.

 

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Kent District Library Director Receives award


Lance Werner, Director of Kent District Library

Lance Werner, Director of Kent District Library

Kent County, MI—Lance Werner, Director of Kent District Library, has been named a “Mover and Shaker” in the library industry by the national publication, Library Journal.

In its March 15, 2016 issue, Library Journal named 54 outstanding professionals committed to providing excellent service and shaping the future of libraries. Werner was selected in the category Change Agents because of his commitment to the profession and push to further the modern conveniences libraries can offer their patrons.

Library Journal honored Werner because of his ability to garner unlikely support for big ideas and his success in bridging the digital divide. Under Werner’s direction, KDL has developed the most robust standalone eBook collection in the states (88,891 eBooks and e Audiobooks) and became the first public library in Michigan to offer eMagazines, eMovies and eComics.

“This year’s class of 54 joins a group of talented professionals who are committed, passionate and invigorated—each alone and all together transforming the library world and the communities it impacts for the better,” said Rebecca T. Miller, Editorial Director of Library Journal and School Library Journal.

Werner has been Director of Kent District Library since May 2011. He previously served as Director of the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, Mich. and as a Library Law Specialist at the Library of Michigan. He earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, a J.D. from Michigan State University and an M.L.I.S. from Wayne State University.

The 2016 Movers & Shakers were selected by the editors of Library Journal, the profession’s leading trade magazine. Each of the Movers & Shakers will be prominently featured in the March 15 issue of Library Journal and celebrated at a special reception in June during the American Library Association’s annual conference in Orlando, Fla. The print feature’s companion website is sponsored by OCLC and available at www.libraryjournal.com/movers2016.

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