WASHINGTON, DC – American librarians are awarding U.S. Senator Jack Reed with their highest honors: the Crystal Apple from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and Honorary Membership from the American Library Association (ALA). 

In recognition of his unwavering commitment and continued support of libraries, Senator Reed will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC on Monday night.  Senator Reed is a longtime champion of public and school libraries who has strongly supported federal funding to ensure that library services are accessible to all.

The ALA awards honorary membership to a select few based on contributions of lasting importance to libraries and librarianship.  Past ALA Honorary Membership winners include: U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (1983), Oprah Winfrey (1997), and Bill Gates (1998).  The first honorary membership was given in 1879 to Charles William Eliot, who served as Harvard’s president for 40 years (1869-1909) and transformed the college into a preeminent research university, and vastly expanded its facilities, including its libraries. 

The AASL’s Crystal Apple recognizes individuals or groups who have had significant impact on school libraries and students.  Past recipients of the award include former First Lady Laura Bush (2006), Target (2009), Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (2010), and Dolly Parton (2011).  This is Reed’s second Crsytal Apple (he also received the honor in 1994) and he is the only two-time award winner.

“I am honored and grateful to receive these prestigious awards.  I’d like to thank the ALA, the ASSL, and the librarians of Rhode Island who nurtured my love of books as a young man, and whose wisdom and dedication helped inspire me to take action and focus attention and resources on libraries nationwide,” said Reed.  “Andrew Carnegie, a great Honorary ALA member, once said: “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people.  It is a never failing spring in the desert.”  I agree.  Libraries play a central role, not just in education but also as a place where the community can come together, a source of common ground and knowledge.  And today, with more people turning to libraries as a technology and job hunting resource, libraries are more important than ever.”

“Senator Reed has been a strong champion, ensuring that all citizens can benefit from important library services,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office.

Throughout his career, Reed has supported education and libraries, statewide and nationally.  He sponsored virtually every major piece of library legislation when he was a Rhode Island member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1990-1996) and as a U.S. Senator for the past 14 years.

Reed was the driving force behind the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries grants in 2001, which authorized $250 million to schools nationwide to buy books and advanced technology, provide training for librarians, and extend library hours.

A member of the Appropriations Committee, he overcame efforts to zero out library funding and delivered $28.6 million in competitive grants for school libraries and literacy programs in this year’s Appropriations law.

Reed also authored and successfully passed the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010, which President Obama signed into law, authorizing nearly $300 million in federal assistance to museums and libraries nationwide.  The bill provides funding for state formula and competitive grants under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which helps libraries meet community needs, better utilize technology to provide enhanced services, and reach underserved populations. 

To help address the shortage of librarians in low-income areas across the country, Reed wrote the LIBRARIAN Act, which cancels Perkins student loans for full-time librarians with a master's degree in library science.  As a result of Reed’s efforts, qualifying public and school librarians working full-time in low-income areas may now receive up to 100 percent Perkins student loan forgiveness.

He also worked to convince the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to amend its policies to recognize libraries as essential community organizations, thus entitled to reimbursement for temporary relocation facilities in the event of a disaster.

Today, Senator Reed continues working to ensure that libraries are included in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  He recently teamed up with Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) to introduce the bipartisan Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act, which calls for a dedicated funding stream for school library programs that are staffed by a state certified or licensed librarian; have up-to-date books, materials, equipment and technology; includes regular collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians; and supports the development of digital literacy skills.