My favorite part of being an MLA Board member the past three years has been voting to approve the awards, grants, and scholarship recipients recommended by our juries. Many of these programs recognize special types of achievements that might not otherwise receive attention or support.
One of the saddest moments as a jury member or a board member is seeing that there are no applicants. Awards exist to be awarded! The about page of each award, grant, or scholarship shows the years in which it was not awarded. The juries and the overarching committees can promote opportunities, but can’t do much to encourage or assist any particular applicant, because they will be responsible for fairly evaluating all applicants.
Targeted promotion and encouragement is where you come in!
Many awards are ripe for a more collective and personal approach to promotion. For example, we can all probably think of colleagues deserving of the Virginia L. and William K. Beatty MLA Volunteer Service Award, given for outstanding and significant service in the association’s leadership, publications, research, or special projects.
Sections are often asked to promote awards and grants, and many of us see these emails come through on group lists. Wouldn’t it be great to take it a little further? Ask for a minute of reflection, and challenge the group to identify members who are making a difference. Could a small team collaborate on writing a nomination? Starting early to gather examples and support letters allows the process to be more enjoyable and engage the community.
For project-based awards like the Thomson Reuters/Frank Bradway Rogers Information Advancement Award, you might ask whether anyone in the group has seen or worked on a project worthy of recognition. Perhaps you want to start a project that might be eligible for the award in a future year.
Finally, you can contribute by individually approaching a potential candidate or providing mentorship to a candidate. The Naomi C. Broering Hispanic Heritage Grant just expanded its criteria to be available to a librarian with an interest in community information access by Latino/Hispanic communities. If you know a librarian who could leverage this award in his or her work, your email or phone call encouraging them to apply could be the impetus they need.
Applications for most awards are due November 1, and for most grants and scholarships are due December 1. Take a look at the full range of opportunities on the MLA website. Working together, we can make the most of all the awards, grants, and scholarships available from MLA’s generous donors.