Philadelphia, January 6, 2015 – Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, was named the 2015 Library Journal Librarian of the Year. The annual award recognizes one library professional who is transforming their library, community and the profession. Reardon was honored for her vision and strategic plan which turned a library system facing budget and staffing reductions into a relevant and thriving community center.
“Siobhan Reardon has been a steadfast, innovative leader for the Free Library during the last seven years,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Last September, I was proud to join her for the announcement that the William Penn Foundation will give $25 million to the Free Library of Philadelphia – the largest private gift ever received by the Free Library – signaling the reinvigoration of a great urban library system through new ideas and City investment of tax dollars. I am very proud that Siobhan has earned this tremendous recognition from her peers across the country. I look forward to working with her to continue to improve libraries services for all Philadelphians in 2015.”
Since becoming President and Director of the 61-location Free Library system in 2008, Ms. Reardon has implemented an ambitious five-year strategic plan, underscored by a powerful mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity. She restructured the system’s 800-member staff to improve efficiencies, internal communications, and patron experience, all while creating critical new positions like the Digital Resource Specialist.
“In order to bring the Free Library of Philadelphia back to a place of prominence in our city’s neighborhoods, I knew that it had to stop trying to be all things to all people,” said Reardon. “We identified five target populations on which to focus – job seekers, entrepreneurs, new Americans, children under five and people with disabilities – and initiated the cluster model to modernize library services. We also focused on collaborating with community leaders to provide the programs and services most needed by residents. I am honored to accept this award on behalf of all the Free Library without whom we could not have achieved this, and thank the Library Journal for their recognition.”
Driven by the strategic plan, Reardon created a unique cluster model of operation, which streamlines and enhances neighborhood library services. Through the cluster model, neighborhood libraries in geographic proximity work together to share resources and staff members, as well as collaborate with community leaders in order to provide the programs and services its residents need most.
Reardon has also led the Free Library’s efforts to move beyond its walls by creating computer and internet outposts called Hot Spots. These Hot Spots offer free technology access and training in partnership with local organizations in underserved neighborhoods in the city’s first roving “techmobile,” and at the Philadelphia International Airport, where travelers can enjoy free Wi-Fi and download library materials on the go. In a city where more than 40% of the population lacks an internet connection at home, Reardon’s efforts are helping bridge Philadelphia’s digital divide.
The award is celebrated in a cover story in the January issue of the magazine and at a special reception during ALA Midwinter in Chicago, IL. Read the full story online.