CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
Government Officials Declare Support of the
Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System
Judith’s Reading Room hosts 2023 Literacy Chair Award Winner
August 15, 2023 — Judith’s Reading Room, a global nonprofit literacy organization based in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, celebrated the winner of its 2nd Annual Literacy Chair Award — the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System — for its innovative “CCLS Road Trip” project, a summertime initiative that seeks to remind everyone that libraries have a lot to offer and encourages the public to get back into the library.
More than three dozen Chautauqua-Cattaragus county library board members, librarians and library staff, teachers, and politicians joined Scott and Cathy Leiber, co-founders of Judith’s Reading Room, at today’s celebratory event at Bemus Point Public Library in western New York. Chautauqua County Executive Paul Wendel, and a representative of Nicholas Langworthy’s (NY-23) Congressional Office and Andrew Goodell’s NYS Assembly’s office spoke about the importance of community libraries and underlined their support for librarians.
Judith’s Reading Room voted the “CCLS Road Trip” project as winner of its 2023 Literacy Chair Award because the project perfectly addresses “summer slide,” the so-called loss of reading competency while students eschew books over more playful activities. “The Road Trip instills a sense of wanderlust and each library showcases the perfect books for the perfect readers, thanks to the librarians who have created unique environments within their libraries,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.
In 2022, while on vacation, the founders of Judith’s Reading Room visited the Bemus Point Public Library and met its director, Shannon Donovan. Donovan did a “first-rate” public relations job in explaining the “CCLS Road Trip.” For her enthusiastic support of reading for fun and for offering a unique, cozy feel at her library, it was decided that the 2023 Judith’s Reading Room’s Literacy Chair Award would be awarded to Shannon on behalf of the other 37 librarians in the CCLS system.
LJ Martin, Outreach & Youth Services Consultant, CCLS, was also honored at today’s event. Leiber acknowledged that the idea for the “Road Trip” had been created and incubated at the county level. To encourage Martin and her team’s continued imagination and community outreach, she was recognized for the important role administrators play in executing county-wide initiatives.
Judith’s Reading Room commissioned sculptor Kirsten Engstrom to design sculptures that would illustrate the power of literacy through art. Her clay sculptures of a seated woman with a beaming smile, holding an open book in her lap will grace the entrance at Bemus Point Public Library and at the executive offices of LJ Martin. Engstrom’s work may be seen throughout Chautauqua Institution and in the town of Mayville, NY.
Judith’s Reading Room
Judith’s Reading Room, a 501 (c) 3 literacy organization was founded in 2010 in the memory of the founders’ first cousin, Judith F. Krug, who served as Director for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association for over 40 years. Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy. We have fulfilled that mission by establishing 105 libraries (and counting) in 23 countries with over 132,000 donated books.
Applications for the 2024 Freedom Through Literacy Award will be posted on October 5, 2023 at www.judithsreadingroom.org. The Award honors individual champions of literacy from all disciplines around the world — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, nonprofit literacy organizations and educators — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading. Since 2015, 60 champions of literacy from 17 countries have been awarded $53,000 in cash prizes.