Peoria librarian wins Librarian of the Year Award

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Illinois Library Association announced Monday that a Peoria Librarian is the 2020 recipient of the Librarian of the Year Award.

Roberta Koscielski of Peoria has worked at the Peoria Public Library for over 35 years. At that time, she connected with city leaders, groups, and organizations to highlight the library’s importance in the community.

One example of this is when she launched the development of “Peoria Reads!”, a committee uniting a range of local leaders and organizations to collaborate on developing engaging annual “One Book, One City” events. After its success, city leaders asked Koscielski for the library’s help in promoting critical city initiatives through literature, including Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America by David Kennedy and Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones.

Koscielski managed to get enough money to expand the library’s role in the initiatives beyond simply distributing the books. In fact, the library currently hosts after-hours gang violence “call-ins” in coordination with local police departments as part of the “Don’t Shoot” initiative.

She also started a major training initiative to recognize opioid overdoses and administer naloxone, a life-saving drug, since three overdoses took place in the Main Library. Her work to raise public and staff awareness of the opioid epidemic in the community has led to her being recognized as one of the 2018 Library Journal Movers and Shakers and a “new first responder” in the opioid epidemic by U.S. News and World Report.

Koscielski also develops a wide range of adult programming, such as the “Peoria Speaks” series. The series gives the community the opportunity to learn about and discuss other critical issues, such as human trafficking, city policing, local arts, Alzheimer’s care, and civility and empathy in their daily lives.

The Librarian of the Year Award will be presented at a ceremony held in conjunction with the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference, which will take place virtually in Oct.

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