Hats Off to ALA’s Staff!

This morning we held our annual Service Awards program, with President Loriene Roy and Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels presenting 33 staff members with certificates and token gifts for service of 5, 10, … up to 40 years of service. Even though the largest number of people have 5 or 10 years of service, the average for this group is just about 15 years. But that’s because there are three with 40 years. Think about it: when they started “The Graduate” was a first-run movie, The Beatles were still recording, with “Hey Jude” the top song of the year, the Detroit Tigers beat out St. Louis in the World Series, and there was much unrest in the world, from riots in Chicago to student demonstrations in Prague. When they started, balloting was on punch cards, carbon sets (or mimeograph) and typewriters were the technologies to make multiple copies, and ALA had just over 35,000 members.

If you’re at all involved with ALA, you’ve probably met or talked with the 40-year folks at least once. Neida de la Torre is in our Member and Customer Service unit, and very easily could be the person who helped you join ALA, or helped to untangle a conference registration glitch, or maybe corrected your membership record the last time you moved. Lois Ann Gregory-Wood receives boisterous applause from the ALA Council members she serves. Bob Hershman, publishing operations manager, oversees the ALA Store at both Midwinter and Annual–and is often at the checkout desk, selling you a serious professional book … or maybe just a conference souvenir for your kids.

Going back through the years, there’s Jimmie Bowens who runs the mailroom (35); Doris McKelvin in accounting (30); Cathleen Bourdon, Communications and Members Relations (but formerly ASCLA/RUSA, and even before then, ACRL) and Betty Morrissey in Reprographics (both 25); Darlena Davis, currently in HRDR, but formerly in LAMA and ACRL, Leonard Kniffel, American Libraries editor, and Pat May in the Washington Office (all 20); and Evelyn Butts-Elam in the CHOICE office in Connecticut (15).

After the service awards, two special Staff Achievement Awards for specific exemplary service were presented: to John Chrastka, Director of Membership, for his work on the Membership Pavilion at last year’s conference, and to George Eberhart, for his work on the weekly AL Direct. And finally, the Betty Obey Award, which enables a staff member with more than five years of service, but who has not attended a conference, to attend the Annual Conference; watch for Angela Smith when you’re in Anaheim!

Its my pleasure to work with these and all the other ALA staff! Their dedication, knowledge, good humor, and corporate memory contribute to our workday “quality of life.” Thanks, all.

5 Responses to “Hats Off to ALA’s Staff!”

  1. Helen Spalding Says:

    There is no way Lois Ann could be that old!!! She still looks like she is in her thirties!
    You are very lucky to have such a knowledgeable, service oriented, dedicated crew, Keith!


  2. Karen Says:


    Some of us think Lois Ann, Bob and Neida had to have started here shortly after they learned to read!



  3. Terri Tomchyshyn` Says:

    congratulations to all. I can’t believe Lois Ann has been at ALA that long either!
    She has become an ALA institution in her own right.
    We members can’t function without the dedication of staff and I’m delighted that Keith and Council have recognized their contributions and support of our issues.


  4. Vee Friesner Carrington Says:

    Lois Ann, it seems such a short time ago that we were working together at PLA! Congratulations on your years of dedication and service to ALA. You’re a gem!


  5. Andy Hansen Says:

    Congrats to Neida, Lois Ann, and Bob! You all were great to work with even if you did violate the child labor laws back when. I especially appreciated your willingness to laugh at my attempts at humor. Peace, Andy


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