Carole Medal, the executive director of the Gail Borden Public Library District in Elgin, Illinois, has been named the 2019 Information and Library Science Distinguished Alumni winner.
The ILS Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes an ILS alum who is making or has made an outstanding contribution to the library science/information science profession. Medal was nominated for the award by Miriam Anderson Lytle, division chief of community services and program development for the Gail Borden Public Library.
Medal is a 1979 graduate of the Master of Library Science program at the then-School of Library and Information Science at IU. She has spent the past 40 years as a librarian in the Chicago suburbs, and she served from 1999-2004 as the division chief for the Chicago Public Library. She has been a member of the American Library Association since 1978, she served as president of the Illinois Library Association from 2009-10, and has participated in a number of committees for the ILA. She was the Illinois Library Association Librarian of the Year in 2013, and she was honored by the Midwest chapter of REFORMA, the national association to promote library and information services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking community, for her outstanding service to the Latino community in 2013.
She became the executive director of the Gail Borden Public Library District in 2004, and under her leadership, the library district has opened two new branches, started bookmobile services and won more than 50 awards, including the Institute for Museum and Library Services National Medal in 2009. She has expanded the offerings at the library by mounting world-class exhibits, such as robotics, dinosaurs, NASA partnered events—including two live talks with the International Space Station—and by establishing a concert series that has partnered with university music programs, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, and various performing artists.
“I am a librarian today because of Carole’s positive professional influence,” Lytle said in nominating Medal. “Her inspiration and contributions reach beyond my colleagues and me. She has had a strong, magnetic, and driven vision for public libraries nationwide for libraries to be a place of gathering, a community hub, that is critical for civic and community engagement and dialogue. Carole’s career paints an illustrious success story and testament for library school students and graduates to follow. Her contributions demonstrate that one librarian can make a transformative difference.”
Carolyn Anthony, retired director of the Skokie (IL) Public Library and past president of the Public Library Association, has worked with Medal over a 30-year career.
“Other public library directors in the area have looked to Carole for her continuing leadership and innovation as when she oversaw the building of an early ‘green’ library branch utilizing an automated check-out kiosk for after-hours collection access,” said Anthony. “Carole has led the way for many public librarians in northern Illinois.”
Kimm Hollis, professor of music and artist in residence emeritus at Hanover College in Hanover, IN, has known Medal for more than 50 years, first making her acquaintance when both were pursuing an undergraduate degree in the music department at Millikin University (IL). He has since performed in the Gain Borden Library concert series and is impressed by Medal’s success.
“Carole Medal has had an unending drive, energy, and passion for what she does,” Hollis said. “It is not surprising that her library career is one of local, regional, and national merit. She believes in, brings joy to, and loves what she does. She is a skilled library professional who continues to make significant and long-lasting contributions.”
Robert Doyle, the retired executive director of the Illinois Library Association, has also worked alongside Medal for decades.
“I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of this award,” Doyle said. “Her contributions to both the individual libraries and the profession of librarianship statewide in Illinois are exceptional. The fact that her library positions ranged from children’s services to technology to reference and adult services before moving into administration has made her one of the most well-rounded and capable library directors in the state.”
Medal will be honored during a ceremony Sept. 23 at Luddy Hall. She is the 38th alumnus to receive the award, which has been awarded annually since 1977.
“The alumni of ILS are one of the greatest strengths of the department and school,” said Katie Novak, the department administrator for ILS. “They are dedicated, involved, and extremely generous. We are honored to recognize Carole Medal’s achievements as someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the library and information science profession.”