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Awards & Grants


Library Staff Awards

Director’s Awards

The Library Director’s Award is awarded to staff members based on nominations from their peers. The FY2020 recipients were Jerry Mack, Maintenance Technician, and Deborah Greer, Acquisitions Associate.

Henry “Clay” Allen Service Award

James Patterson, Courier, won the Henry “Clay” Allen Service Award. This award was created in 2007 to honor the memory of Mr. Henry “Clay” Allen and is given each year to a staff member who symbolizes the hard-working and enthusiastic spirit of Mr. Allen, who worked for the library for 19 years.

Trustees Award

Teresa May, Adult Services Librarian at South Regional Library, who has since retired, and Patty Melendez, Children’s Service Staff at Southwest Regional Library, won the 2019 Trustees’ Award. This honor is bestowed upon a staff member who exemplifies exceptional service, creativity, reliability, and helpfulness and who works to improve the public’s awareness of the library.

Excellence in Communications Award

In November 2019, Stephanie Bonestell, Public Relations Officer, was awarded a North Carolina Association of Government Information Officers “Excellence in Communications Award.” The award was in recognition of outstanding work in print publications for Durham County Library’s Annual Report FY19. The twelve-page, full-color publication centered around the library’s five strategic goals: literacy and lifelong learning; bridging the digital divide; workforce development; capturing the culture of Durham; and accountable, efficient, and visionary libraries. Staff input from across the library system helped inform the content, and special attention was paid to highlighting the work of library staff and the substantial impact of our community partners.


The North Carolina Public Library Directors Association (NCPLDA) awarded Durham County Library two 2019 NCPLDA Awards. Leander Croker, Business Services Manager, and Faith Burns Phillips, Main Library Manager, were recognized with the Literacy Award for their work on Entrepreneurial Education and Support. Stephanie Fennell, North Regional Library Manager, and Terry B. Hill, Deputy Director, were recognized with the Library Programming Award in the adult programs category for Restorative Workouts for Adaptive Athletes, which was part of the All of Us Durham grant project. 

Entrepreneurial Education and Support is an initiative to improve financial and business literacy and ensure that potential entrepreneurs, particularly women, people of color, immigrants, and veterans, have access to the support they need to succeed. The initiative has three primary components: financial and business literacy programming; professional development for key library staff through the national learning collaborative, Strengthening Libraries as Entrepreneurial Hubs Cohort, which is sponsored by the Urban Libraries Council and the Kauffman Foundation; and intentional local partnerships.

Entrepreneurial Education and Support is a centerpiece of Durham County Library’s work to achieve one of our five priority goals: to strengthen the workforce by supporting relevant education, training, and resources. Twenty-five financial and business literacy programs with an overall attendance of about 220 were held in FY19. One participant said, “Loved that the presenters had experience with the topic and were realistic about financial hurdles/challenges.”

Restorative Workouts for Adaptive Athletes was a weekly strength-training program to restore and strengthen movement for those with restricted or limited mobility. Restorative Workouts for Adaptive Athletes was a part of All of Us Durham, a project of Durham County Library in collaboration with the Durham County Public Health Department and Duke University Medical Center Library. The project worked to engage the Durham community by raising awareness of the All of Us research program for populations underrepresented in biomedical research.

Participants included people with acquired amputations as a result of diabetes who saw marked improvement in mobility over the course of the program, including a participant who gained the ability to climb stairs on his own.

Restorative Workouts for Adaptive Athletes created an opportunity for people to participate, grow, and strengthen themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Adaptive Training was part of the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health’s All of Us project. This project was funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under Grant Number UG4LM012340 with the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Library Awards

National Achievement Award

Durham County Library was recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for Practicing Inclusivity, a project led by Community Engagement Administrator Sarah Alverson. The award honors innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

Practicing Inclusivity is an initiative to make Durham County Library more welcoming and accessible for individuals with special needs, their families, friends, and caregivers. The project provided training to staff, created more inclusive spaces, and significantly increased inclusive programming at the library. In 2018, Durham County Library was awarded funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-00-19-0034-19) to implement the project, which was renewed for a second year in 2019.

Durham County Library Director Tammy Baggett-Best said, “We’re thrilled to be recognized for this initiative. From our Neurodiversity Book Club to sensory-friendly bubble walls at our libraries, Practicing Inclusivity has helped us better serve people with special needs, and I’m excited to see it continue to grow.”

NACo President Mary Ann Borgeson said, “We are seeing firsthand now more than ever that counties work tirelessly to support our residents. This year’s Achievement Award-winning programs showcase how counties build healthy, safe, and vibrant communities across America.”

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement, and many more.

Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America’s 3,069 county governments. Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government and exercise exemplary leadership in public service.  Learn more at

Partners for Middle School STEM Award

Project Managers:
Ericka Hill, Former Teen Services Manager, Stanford L. Warren Branch Library
Archie Burke, Teen Services Manager, East Regional Library

In FY19, Durham County Library was awarded participation in the Urban Library Council’s Partners for Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Initiative. The initiative focuses on reaching low-income middle school students to provide programs that ensure youth have fun with STEM while understanding its long-term relevance and value in their lives. As part of the project, lead staff attended a conference in Chicago, and Durham County Library received $10,000 in direct program support from the Urban Libraries Council (ULC). That support enabled Durham County Library to offer the STEAM Off Afterschool Program in fall 2019.

STEAM Off was a four-week, theme-based program covering topics ranging from outer space to coding, held at two locations — Stanford L. Warren Branch Library and Durham County Youth Home, a residential juvenile detention center.

STEAM Off reached 43 total youth, many of whom participated week after week. Parents were actively involved in assisting throughout the program series at Stanford L. Warren Branch Library, helping with everything from making electronic pianos with Kramden to helping prepare meals for participants on Tuesday evenings. Youth and staff alike at the Durham County Youth Home were delighted by the hands-on STEAM programming — from the chance to code beats to making robots — and staff were eager to bring STEAM educators back for future programs.

When asked what they had learned during the program, one participant responded, “learned how to code and operate a robot. I also learned how to code on an iPad.” In another program survey, one parent wrote, “I enjoy watching my kids learn things that will stick.”

This program support was made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant number LG-95-18-0025-18.


All of Us Durham

Project Managers:
Stephanie Fennell, Manager, North Regional Library
Terry B. Hill, Deputy Director

Durham County Library was awarded a second year of grant funding for $51,650 from the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health to fund All of Us Durham through April 2020. The first year of funding, in FY19, was for $64,560. Through health programming, staff training, and collection development, Durham County Library utilized year two grant funding to develop and implement strategies to provide resources to community members who needed them most. …more

LSTA Project Grant – Practicing Inclusivity

Project Manager:
Sarah Alverson, Community Engagement Administrator

In FY19, Durham County Library received a $95,000 grant from the State Library of North Carolina for Practicing Inclusivity: Establishing a Multi-Sensory Environment, Inclusive Playroom, and Mobile Adaptive Technology Units for Transformation Main. In FY2020, the initiative was awarded $106,062 for a second year …more