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Laura Renker receives NLA's Mad Hatter Youth Service Award

Crete Public Library's Laura Renker is the recipient of this year's Mad Hatter Youth Service Award, presented by the Nebraska Library Association. She accepted the honor during the 2022 NLA Annual Conference held Oct. 5-6 at the Younes Confernce Center in Kearney.

"The purpose of the Mad Hatter Award is to recognize an individual member of the Nebraska Library Profession who has made an outstanding contribution to School, Children’s and Young People’s librarianship and library development." Laura has been the Children's Services Librarian at Crete Public Library for the last 20 years and is now transitioning to the library's Outreach Services.

Mad Hatter award nominees demonstrate achievements in the following areas:

  1.  Imaginative interpretation of library services
  2. Development of innovative and creative programming for children and young adults
  3. Demonstration of professional contributions to regional, state, and national library organizations, publications, and/or presentations

Crete Public Library now includes children's and young adults areas in the collection spaces, as well as a reading garden, activity space, learning computers, and program room. Laura coordinated a year-round slate of programs including preschool story time, after-school programs, library tours, author visits, craft projects, holiday break activities, and the ever-popular Summer Reading Program, which boasts events, hands-on activities, and guest entertainment. In the former library building, she packed monthly activities and supplies into the basement activity room, but events often spread through the main library, Nebraska Room, and out into City Park and other community spaces available.

Many Crete library patrons and community members wrote letters of support towards the award submission, all detailing Laura's dedicated efforts, enthusiasm, and genuine care towards children's and youth programming and collections at Crete Public Library.