It came as a bit of a surprise when Gulfport’s David Mather was awarded Florida’s Librarian of the Year. At least, to him.
“I actually applied to get Florida Library of the Year,” Mather said. “I got an email back saying we didn’t get that, but then I got a call and they told me I was winning an award. I was perplexed because they already told me I wasn’t winning the [Library of the Year] award, but it was a different award. Turns out people nominated me for the Florida Librarian of the Year.”
The award is issued yearly by the Florida Library Association and recognizes outstanding and ongoing contributions to Florida librarianship, according to the organization’s website. It was given out March 3, along with the honor for Library of the Year (Manatee County), at a conference in Daytona Beach.
Criteria to be nominated include active participation in professional associations, commitment to free access of information, promotion of reading and evidence of creativity/innovation in providing services and resources.
Mather, who holds a masters degree in library sciences, is also the current chair of the Pinellas Public Library Co-op library, and a liaison to the board of directors for the PPLC. Other feathers in Mather’s cap include the hiring of a full-time youth librarian, increasing circulation, and numerous library programs for all ages, including the LGBTQ resource center.
“It’s the first one in Florida in a public library,” Mather said.
Mather also makes sure that children and teens are well represented at the library.
“One of the big things we try to fill the gap for, is to keep them coming,” Mather said about bringing children to the library. “We have a variety of things; we have mommy and me yoga, as well as early-learning center computers.”
The also library provides science clubs, reading programs and teen activates like video game time, drum circles and presentations, Mather said.
Mather is not 100 percent sure who nominated him for the accolade, but he says he has his suspicions.
“I know my youth librarian was one of the people, and I suspect a few of the [Circle of ] Friends members,” Mather said.
“It feels good [to be recognized], but it feels weird,” Mather added. “I was going for library of the year; I like to do it with the team, but it’s kind of nice to be recognized.”