News Release

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

DATE: October 23, 2011
CONTACT: Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

Shelley Quezada receives Prestigious Award

Shelley Quezada was receives the Emerson Greenaway Award from former NELA President Rick Taplin.

Shelley Quezada was receives the Emerson Greenaway Award from former NELA President Rick Taplin.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) is pleased to announce that Shelley Quezada, Consultant for the Underserved, is the 2011 winner of the New England Library Association’s (NELA) Emerson Greenaway Award for Distinguished Service in Librarianship. Ms. Quezada was honored at NELA’s annual conference banquet on October 2, 2011 where she was presented with the award by NELA’s past President Rick Taplin.

“Shelley’s work has touched so many people not only in Massachusetts, but nationally and internationally as well.  More than a career, improving literacy for our most vulnerable populations has been her life’s passion and we’re proud and fortunate to have her at the MBLC," said Robert C. Maier, MBLC Director.

In her over 20 years at the MBLC, Ms. Quezada has been responsible for creating many pathways to literacy for disabled individuals, new Americans, the incarcerated, the homeless, the illiterate, and the very young.  “Literacy is the best way to improve someone’s life,” said Quezada. “For the very young, it’s a vital foundation for future learning; for the disabled, it’s a connection that creates possibility; for those in prison it’s an avenue to change.  It’s fundamental to who we are and what we are able to achieve.”

This vision and passion is what led Ms. Quezada, in her role at the MBLC, to develop some of the most successful federal grant opportunities for libraries. On the Same Page programs in which entire communities read and discuss the same book, Mother Goose on the Loose which uses music and movement to teach early literacy and Conversation Circles which helps new Americans learn English are among the many programs Ms. Quezada has brought to Massachusetts libraries and residents.

Ms. Quezada also works with libraries so that they are better able to provide library services for disabled residents.  With Ms. Quezada’s guidance over 130 public libraries are using adaptive technologies to better serve individuals with disabilities. “Nothing about me, without me is a phrase I once heard that guides what I do. I don’t make assumptions about what people need, I ask them and get them involved, “she says.

It is this philosophy that she instills in her students at Simmons College where she teaches courses on literacy and library services for the underserved and children’s literacy. “Gaining an understanding that we all come from different backgrounds and have different needs is first step to improving literacy levels.  Once students understand that, it’s like turning a switch and they become aware of the importance of opening pathways to literacy especially for underserved populations.”

Ms. Quezada’s international efforts to improve literacy include projects in Africa, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico.  MBLC Director Maier notes, “Many of us are directed in what we do and some of us are passionate in what we do, but seldom do you find someone who has the passion and can direct it to accomplish important goals.  Shelley is one of those rare people.”

About the award: In 1988 New England Library Association President Christine Kardokas established the “Great Librarian Award” to recognize the contributions of exceptional librarians. The first recipient to be honored for his outstanding achievements was Emerson Greenaway, an innovator in library organization and practice in the mid-twentieth century. Two years later this regional tribute was renamed the Emerson Greenaway Award to honor the memory of its first recipient. The award is offered annually by NELA to recognize distinguished service in the field of librarianship.

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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