The American Library Association has recognized April Roy’s role in building the Kansas City Public Library’s Bluford Branch into a community haven, honoring her with its coveted I Love My Librarian Award.
Roy, who has managed the Bluford Branch for a little more than three years, traveled to New York City to accept the award Thursday night, December 3, 2015. It celebrates the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, and university librarians nationwide, drawing nominations from library users.
This year’s 10 recipients were selected from more than 1,300 nominees, according to the ALA. Roy receives a $5,000 cash prize, a plaque, and a $500 travel stipend to attend the awards reception, and a separate plaque is awarded to the Kansas City Public Library.
“I am a librarian because I love it. So to win an award with ‘love’ in the title is perfect for me,” says Roy, who recently marked her 10th year overall with the Library. “It gives validity to some of the ‘outside the box’ thinking that has made my work such a success and a joy.”
She was nominated by Kansas City children’s author and Bluford Branch patron Christine Taylor-Butler, who noted, “Once April transferred to Bluford (in August 2012), the library blossomed.
“Where I used to walk into a mostly unused space, the library now buzzes with activity,” Taylor-Butler wrote. “… For adults and children, Bluford has become the place for homework help, job search assistance, refuge, or to find a passion for reading. She knows many of the visitors by name, and they’ve responded by putting out the word that Bluford is a place where people can feel welcome.”
The Bluford Branch has seen circulation of books and other materials increase as Roy has increasingly tailored its collection to the Prospect Avenue corridor it serves. Beyond that, it has emerged as a hub for community activity, featuring a far-reaching health and fitness initiative that includes free evening exercise classes, health fairs, and chronic disease self-management workshops. The lineup complements a permanent Health and Wellness Center that the branch houses in partnership with Truman Medical Centers.
Taylor-Butler also pointed to the Bluford Branch’s distribution of some 800 children’s books each month through community events and festivals. And she cited Roy’s efforts in arranging a surprise appearance by novelist George R.R. Martin – author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, adapted by HBO into Game of Thrones – for a science fiction workshop.
“I would invite you to Kansas City to see what ‘gold’ April has spun from the limited resources she was given to work with when she first arrived,” Taylor-Butler wrote in nominating Roy for the I Love My Librarian Award. “She turned the Bluford library into an oasis for a community that has little else to claim as its own.”
Roy joined the Library as an assistant children’s librarian at the Plaza Branch when it opened in 2005, and later served as children’s services supervisor. A graduate of the University of Missouri graduate, she worked previously with the Mid-Continent Public Library.
The I Love My Librarian Award is administered by the Chicago-based American Library Association and co-sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the New York Public Library. The Carnegie Corporation hosts the awards reception.
“I just have to decide,” Roy says, “if it is in poor taste to mention the Royals while I give my acceptance speech in New York.”