Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Libraries Are “Sacred Places” Says Author Stuart Dybek at Polish American Librarians Open House

More than 85 librarians and library supporters, some from as far away as Texas and Florida, gathered at the Polish Museum of America (PMA) in Chicago February 24 for an afternoon of networking, brainstorming, and programs. Keynote speaker Stuart Dybek, award-winning Polish American author and poet, provided the highpoint of the proceedings with stories about his reverence for libraries, calling them "sacred places" that are at the center of a writer's life. "My library card was like a passport that could be stamped over and over again on my journey to becoming a Polish-American," he said.

 Katie Clausen, library school student from Dominican University, received the 2013 Vera May Barnes Zubrzycki Scholarship (read more at Dominican University website), and her heartfelt acceptance demonstrated why she was chosen, as she spoke about cultural diversity in libraries. Susan Roman, dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican, and Michael Zubrzycki, scholarship donor for whose mother it is named, were on hand to present the award of $2,300.

Project coordinator Barbara Bilszta spoke about "All of Polonia Reads to Kids" and screened a film showing how well the reading initiative has taken off in Poland, and she urged Polish American librarians to participate. Following her talk, the young people of the Academy of Music of Paderewski Symphony Orchestra and Little Stars entertained with lively performances of classical and popular tunes.

 PALA president Elizabeth Marszalik and PMA president Maria Ciesla welcomed the group, and Konrad Zielinski from the Polish Consulate in Chicago said he looked forward to working with PALA on future projects. PALA board member Leonard Kniffel talked about PALA's connection to the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, which was launched in 2012. Malgorzata Kot, PMA head librarian, served as emcee and conducted a tour of the museum library, one of the largest of its kind in the world, following the program.

Watch a video of Stuart Dybek’s presentation on the PALA website or YouTube.

The mission of the Polish American Librarians Association is to positively impact services provided to library patrons of Polish descent and individuals interested in Polish culture and to enhance professional knowledge by developing forums for discussion and networks of communication among library staff. Annual membership dues for librarians are $25. Library support staff, students, retirees, and unemployed library workers are eligible for a $15 special rate. 
Visit www.palalib.org for more details.

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