2019 APLA Merit Award Winner - Beth Maddigan

The APLA Merit Award honours an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to library services in the Atlantic Provinces. The Atlantic Provinces Library Association is pleased to announce that this year's recipient of the APLA Merit Award is Beth Maddigan. Beth is a leading advocate and champion of libraries and literacies in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ms. Maddigan has made a number of significant contributions to the development, application and utilization of library services and library systems both as Provincial Children’s Librarian (Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries, 2009-2011) and Head, Education Library and Commons (Memorial University Libraries, 2011-present). She has been instrumental in the development of collections at both NLPL and the MUN Education Library, and has a wide-ranging knowledge of both children’s and young adult literature. Her deep respect for, and careful engagement with, books for younger readers is apparent whether she is speaking as part of an academic panel on picture books or appearing on CBC Radio Noon Crosstalk.

Ms. Maddigan’s most recent collections work at the Education Library has increased the availability and visibility of literature and non-fiction about gender and sexuality topics (including LGBTQ+), as well as Indigenous Peoples of North America. She has shared this work with MUN education students and local teachers through displays and promotional activities.

As Provincial Children’s Librarian, Ms. Maddigan introduced a number of literacy programs and initiatives to Newfoundland and Labrador including the Canadian Children’s 4 Book Week Tour, the Hackmatack Children’s Reading Award, and the TD Summer Reading Club. She also worked to develop and advance KinderStart, a major partnership between public libraries and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Through this program, parents are able to receive two quality children’s books for free when visiting their local public library. During the visit, parents and children are introduced to library services and programs that support literacy.

Ms. Maddigan has also been a vocal champion of Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries. During the threatened closures of 54 public libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2016, Ms. Maddigan wrote letters to various government officials, shared thoughtful public posts on social media channels, and published a letter to the editor in the St. John’s Telegram. As is so often the case with Ms. Maddigan, her knowledgeable, courageous, and diplomatic contributions to the conversations surrounding this issue sparked further positive engagement from other community members.

Ms. Maddigan has made several substantial contributions to the library literature. She is the lead author of three books: The BIG Book of Stories, Songs, and Sing-Alongs: Programs for Babies, Toddlers, and Families (Libraries Unlimited, 2003), The BIG Book of Reading, Rhyming, and Resources: Programs for Children, Ages 4-8 (Libraries Unlimited, 2005), and Community Library Programs That Work: Building Youth and Family Literacy (Libraries Unlimited, 2013). These books are particularly notable for their value as a reference resource for library practitioners.

Ms. Maddigan’s current research project, Libraries as Public ‘Homespaces,’ encapsulates many themes and interests that have been evident throughout her career: building partnerships between different types of libraries, engaging libraries as spaces for community building and collaboration, and developing and encouraging literacy in a variety of forms. As part of this Canadian Association of Research Libraries funded project, she and her research partner Dr. Leah Lewis (Assistant Professor, MUN Faculty of Education) hosted a series of Art Hive sessions in a variety of academic and public library spaces.

Ms. Maddigan has worked to significantly expand children’s programming, collections, and services at Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries, and has been involved in the development of new and improved library spaces and 6 collections in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University. She has been a vocal and active leader in her support for public libraries in the province, and has enthusiastically provided professional development and assistance to the Teacher Librarians of Newfoundland and Labrador. Finally, she has been the lead author on three books, and continues to engage in exciting and highly relevant scholarly research.

Ms. Maddigan is a vital and valued member of the wide-ranging communities that she serves, and has a gift for lifting up and inspiring everyone around her; her welcoming and inclusive vision for libraries and her generosity of spirit is infectious. She is a catalyst that transforms communities and leaves them changed, even after she steps back. Ms. Maddigan is an outstanding leader and mentor in our profession. She engages and inspires others through her passion and dedication for libraries and literacy, as well as her generous, collaborative nature. She continues to build bridges in order to promote and progress literacy and libraries throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and is deserving of APLA’s Merit Award.

Beth Maddigan was celebrated at the APLA Merit Award Presentation on June 7 at Admiral’s Green in St. John’s Newfoundland.