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Librarian of the Year Award: Team Cedar Rapids

Photo of Rebecca Bartlett

"The warning came a scant five-and-a-half hours ahead of the water June 11. Predicted to top out at 24 feet, the Cedar River crested at 31. Despite heroic efforts by the staff to move everything out of danger to 26'-high shelves, the Cedar Rapids Public Library (CRPL), IA, lost 160,000 items including large parts of its adult and youth collections, magazines, newspapers, reference materials, CDs, and DVDs. Most of its public access computers were destroyed as was its computer lab and microfilm equipment. The automatic circulation and security systems were ruined. On top of that, the 84,000 square foot Central Library was contaminated and has been closed ever since those three days in June. The work of the CRPL management team to restore service and embrace the recovery is an inspiration for Cedar Rapids and for all librarians…" — excerpt from:

Librarian of the Year 2009: Team Cedar Rapids
After the flood, CRPL buoys the community
by John N. Berry III — Library Journal, 1/15/2009


SLIS alumna Rebecca Bartlett (MLS/MA'04), was one of 11 recipients of the 2009 Librarian of the Year Award, given annually by Library Journal. Since graduating from her dual SLIS/REEI (Russian and East European Studies) degree program, Rebecca has had interesting job positions. In an email interview Rebecca described her different jobs and receiving the Librarian of the Year Award.

What jobs did you have after graduating?
“After graduating from Indiana University SLIS and REEI in 2004, I moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to work at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. In 2007, I took a position as the Adult Services Coordinator at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. In June 2008, this 290,000-volume library was flooded with over 5 feet of water in what is now considered the worst public library disaster in history of the US. For our efforts in re-locating library services in Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids, our 11-person management team received the 2009 Librarian of the Year award by Library Journal. At 28, I was the youngest person ever to win (share) this award.

Unfortunately, because of the declining economy and the natural disaster, I was one of seven staff members laid off from the Cedar Rapids Public Library in April 2009. I then took a job as the Head of Technical Services at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa in June 2009. I supervise the four staff members in Technical Services and serve as a reference liaison to several university departments. I have always wanted to work in an academic library, and I enjoy working with students, faculty and staff.”

Any advice for students?
“My advice for current students is not to give up if you can't find the perfect job right away. I know how difficult it is to be looking for work in the current job market. If you can, take a part-time job or an internship at the library where you want to work. It's also a good idea to have someone in the library field look over your resume and make suggestions…”

Posted November 13, 2009