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LAMP Award goes to THS librarian

By Tyler Hargett for the FCT

For Hollywood actors and directors, there’s the Oscar. For authors, it’s the Pulitzer Prize. For Alabama librarians, it’s the Herman Moore LAMP Award for Exceptional Service.

Awarded annually by Alabama Library Expo, this award honors librarians and library media specialists who have provided, as the award notes, exceptional service to their schools, communities and patrons over an extended period of time. One of this year’s winners is Tharptown High School’s own Melissa Harrison, who had no idea the award was in her future.

“I never dreamed I would get it,” Harrison said. “It’s a great honor because there are so many librarians in this area that do such a great job. It’s not very often you get to be recognized for what you do, so, any time you are, it’s very nice.”

Nominations are accepted by the Expo from Jan. 1 until July 1 of each year. In order to be eligible to receive the award, a nominee must have a minimum of five years of service in an Alabama library or media center.

An announcement letter and blank nomination form is sent to public library administrators and schools each spring. The Alabama Library Expo Board then evaluates the forms and grants the awards. A nomination can be made from any source, but preference is given to those who supervise the work of the nominated person.

This was definitely the case at Tharptown, as Harrison was nominated by Principal Barry Laster.

“Mrs. Harrison cares deeply for our students and the school. I wanted to repay her for all that she does. I felt that she deserved some recognition,” he said.

This year, Harrison was one out of three to win the award in Northwest Alabama. On the last day of the Expo, which is held at Calhoun Community College’s Aerospace Training Center, she was looking around at the various exhibits and vendors when “one of the guys on the council told me ‘Congratulations. I think you’ve won the LAMP Award.'”

After moving into the new library last spring, Harrison has continued to try to get more students at the school into reading.

“I have a real focus on obtaining resources and books for the children because we don’t have enough money in Franklin County to buy books. So, I work a lot on being able to buy books for the kids and to give them a love of reading,” she said.

Besides this, she is also “always willing to volunteer” and tries to be “as involved in the school as I can be.”

Harrison has been a librarian at Tharptown for the last ten years. Now starting off a new school year with a new library, she not only has a new place to work but also an award to remind her of her love of reading and her outreach to others to do the same.