Kerri Whitmer, a 26-year veteran of the Dallas Public Library, has won the Lillian M. Bradshaw Award for outstanding service to libraries and literacy in Dallas.
The award was presented at the Friends of the Dallas Public Library annual meeting, held virtually on Tuesday, June 29.
At the same meeting, the late Karen Blumenthal was honored with the May Dickson Exall Award, and Gary Gadson was elected the organization’s new chair, succeeding Walt McCool.
The Bradshaw award, named for longtime library director Lillian Bradshaw, is presented to an outstanding staff member and includes a $1,000 scholarship for continuing education or professional training.
Whitmer, currently the manager of the Fretz Park Branch Library, has served in many capacities at several locations and is renowned for her creativity, mentoring skills, and ability to cope with challenges ranging from tornadoes to the current pandemic.
“She has served the library through many significant changes in leadership and organizational structures,” said Library Director Jo Giudice. “Yet her skills, knowledge, customer service, and commitment to the mission of the library have remained unchanged.”
In a moving tribute video shown at the meeting, the Friends presented its highest award to Karen Blumenthal, the journalist, author, and fierce library advocate who died last year. May Dickson Exall was a trailblazing Dallas woman whose foresight and determination resulted in the establishment of the Dallas Public Library in 1899.
“In all the years since no one has picked up that torch and carried it forward more than Karen Blumenthal,” Executive Director Mary Wilonsky said, in presenting the award to Karen’s husband, Scott McCartney.
“Karen would be so honored,” McCartney said. “She loved working with all of you, and to accept this award in her memory is very special to me and my children.”
The new chair of the Friends, Gary Gadson, is a vice president at American Virtual Cloud Technologies, overseeing enterprise analytics, execution, and platform integration.
“I’m honored to take over from Walt McCool, who helped the organization persevere through a difficult year,” said Gadson, who was vice-chair until now. “Our libraries are such an indispensable part of our community, and the Friends is committed to ensuring they have the resources and support they need.”
Since 1950, Friends of the Dallas Public Library has raised more than $50 million to enhance library buildings and programs and marshaled public and political support for one of Dallas’ most important institutions. Details and membership information are available at www.supportdpl.org.
Kerri Whitmer, 2021 Lillian M. Bradshaw Award Winner