Event night photos by Janik Photography
The Friends of the Dallas Public Library has presented the Exall Award for contributions to literacy and libraries to the entire staff of the Dallas Public Library.
The award, honoring 350 staff members at Dallas’ 30 libraries, was presented at the organization’s annual Gala on Thursday night at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. It recognized the efforts of librarians to keep providing services during the pandemic, when library buildings were closed.
“The last 2½ years presented challenges like never before,” Friends Chairman Gary Gadson told the audience, which included about 50 library staffers representing their colleagues. “Their ingenuity, creativity and calling to serve the public make them the heart of the library.”
While the libraries are open again, Gadson added, “The creativity and innovation that the staff developed to serve Dallas remotely while the buildings were shut down have made the library system even better.” A video tribute to the staff can be https://youtu.be/zzI6z8MUt2k
At the banquet, the Friends also presented the Lillian M. Bradshaw Award for exemplary service to Jessica Alvarado, who is based at the Vickery Park branch. Alvarado, praised for her innovative programming and diversity efforts, received a $1,000 scholarship for continuing education.
The Exall Award is named for May Dickson Exall (1859-1936), who, as president of the Federation of Dallas Women’s Club, campaigned and raised money for the establishment of the first Dallas Public Library in 1901. As the library’s first president, she staged art exhibitions that led to the creation of the Dallas Museum of Art.
“Her key role in our city’s cultural life continued for decades, and May Dickson Exall’s legacy is still an important part of Dallas today,” Gadson said.
Previous Exall Award winners include UNT Dallas President Bob Mong, NorthPark Center co-owner Nancy Nasher, librarian Charlene Howell and author and journalist Karen Blumenthal.
About 300 guests packed the downtown library’s newly renovated 6th floor for the banquet, followed by a panel discussion featuring local authors Harry Hunsicker, Jim Schutze, Donna Wilhelm and Erin Yun, moderated by Dallas Poet Laureate Joaquin Zihuatanejo.
“It’s quite a year for the Friends and a great warm-up for our 75th anniversary coming up in 2025,” Gadson said. “Finally, after two years of limited services, the Dallas Public Library – and the Friends of the Dallas Public Library – are roaring back in a big way.”