News Release

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

DATE: April 30, 2008
CONTACT: Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

Library Women Honored as 2008 Unsung Heroines

Wilmington Public Library Director Christina Stewart, Millis Public Library Director Linda Stetson, Director of Hopedale's Bancroft Memorial Library Merrily Sparling, Trustee of Dracut's Moses Greely Parker Memorial Library Clee A. Ace, former Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioner Joan Rosner, and Hamilton-Wenham's Edna Barney were selected from nearly 600 nominations to be honored as Unsung Heroines of 2008 by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW) for selflessly making a difference in the lives of others.

The library women, and other Community Unsung Heroines of 2008, will be recognized for their outstanding contributions to their organizations and communities in a ceremony on Wednesday, May 14, 2008, at the State House in Boston.

"Our Unsung Heroines are women who don’t make the news, but make the difference in their communities, businesses, or volunteer endeavors. They are the women who quietly, without fanfare or recognition and usually behind the scenes, use their time, talent, spirit and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others," said Linda Brantley, MCSW Executive Director. "We are awed by the fabulous work women across the Commonwealth are doing and thankful to the many nominators who brought these incredible women to our attention."

Wilmington Library Director Christina Stewart was nominated for the award by Superintendent of Schools Joanne Benton.  Most recently Stewart united the community behind a library renovation project after plans for a new library were voted down by residents. “I feel as though this award belongs not only to me but to the staff, Friends, volunteers, trustees, and Town Manager as much as me,” said Stewart.

Unsung Heroine Edna Barney, who is 91, holds several volunteer positions.  She is curator emeritus and a charter member of the Hamilton Historical Society where she volunteers one day a week. She is currently updating the First Congregational Church’s history; and for the past six years she works twice a week in the children’s room at the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library.

In Linda Stetson’s two and half years as Director of Millis Public Library the library has gone from struggling to thriving with increases in circulation and programming. “I have a lot of passion for libraries,” said Stetson, “it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.”  State Representative Richard Ross clearly recognized her passion and dedication when he nominated her for the award.

 Dana Mastroianni, Director at Moses Greeley Parker Memorial Library in Dracut describes library trustee and 2008 Unsung Heroine Clee A. Ace as "bright, witty and intelligent."  "We're lucky to have her."  Ms. Ace was nominated for the award by Rosalie E. Dunbar.

 Merrily Sparling, Director at Hopedale's Bancroft Memorial Library said, "There are many folks out there doing a great job and don't get noticed."  "It's nice that my work at the library and at the historical commission is recognized." Ms. Sparling noted that she feels as though she's following in the footsteps of former Library Director Elaine Malloy who was a 2006 Unsung Heroine. Merrily was nominated by Selectman Alan Ryan.

Joan Rosner served as Chairperson of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). She was sworn in as a Commissioner by Governor Dukakis in 1978 and served on the Board until 1989. "I loved my work as a Commissioner," stated Rosner. "We tackled some tough issues and worked to strengthen libraries," she added. "Joan is a remarkable person who has worked tirelessly for libraries. She understands the difference they make in the lives of all our residents," stated Robert C. Maier, Director of the MBLC. "We were lucky to have her." Ms. Rosner, who was nominated by Senator Stan Rosenberg, is currently  the Chair South Hadley Planning Board, a member of a local organization called Know Your Town, and supports South Hadley Public Library every chance she gets.

The 2008 Unsung Heroines Event will be held at the Massachusetts State House and includes a speaking program with a keynote address delivered by Attorney General Martha Coakley, certificate presentations, a collective photo of all Heroines in attendance and a “Just Desserts” reception featuring pastries from some of the best female pastry chefs in the state.

For more information please visit

Please note: this event is not open to the public

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners ( is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.

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