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John Philip Award goes to Aurora Public Library Outreach Services manager

AURORA – Kathleen Butzen, Outreach Services Manager for Aurora Public Library, received the John Philip Award at the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) Conference held Oct. 25-27 in Pittsburgh.

ABOS is a national American Library Association affiliate with members all over the country.

The John Philip Award recognizes outstanding contributions and prominent leadership by an individual in Bookmobile and Outreach Services.

Philip is known as the father of the National Bookmobile Conference, which started in 1986. Also known as “Mr. Bookmobile,” he died in February, 2016.

The award was presented to Butzen by David Kelsey, Outreach Services Librarian for St. Charles Public Library.

“The individual who will be receiving this award has been involved in Outreach Services at their library for over 10 years,” Kelsey said in a speech before announcing the winner.

“(This person) has been dedicated to advocating for bookmobile and outreach services at a national level, being active and holding several leadership roles in ABOS. (His or her) work has made a permanent, lasting and positive impact at their library, for their community, and for the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services.”

“At the beginning of his speech, he could have been talking about almost anyone in the room,” Butzen said. “But I knew that the winner has to have served locally and nationally, and mentored others, and I have done all those things.”

Butzen said winning the John Philip Award is a “big deal in our field,” and likened it to a teacher winning the Golden Apple Award. “In our field, that’s what it feels like. When I walked off the stage after accepting the award, everyone kept jumping up and hugging me. It made me feel good.”

Butzen has worked in library outreach for 18 years. She has been at Aurora Public Library for almost 13 years and worked at Roselle Public Library before that. She has been active in ABOS for 13 years, several as an elected board member.

She is the current president of the Midwest Bookmobile and Library Outreach Networking Group (B’LONG).

“I met John Philip at one of the first conferences I attended in 2005 or 2006,” Butzen said. “He was a wonderful man who was very dedicated to our profession. It was an honor to meet him and an honor to win the award named for him. It was even more special because it was presented to me by someone I mentored to become more involved in the professional development side of our profession.”

Butzen was not aware she had been nominated for the award. Library Executive Director Daisy Porter-Reynolds submitted the nomination, which read in part:

“Kathleen is an outstanding example of the values Mr. Philips embodied in his library work. Since I began working with Kathleen in 2014, I have been impressed with her connection to Aurora’s schools, senior centers and other agencies that provide outreach to our residents. For many Aurorans, Kathleen is the face of the library, and she raises our status in the community by providing excellent, personal, on-premises service directly as well as by empowering her staff to do similar work. In addition to bringing library services to her customers, Kathleen raises the profile of the library in the community through her work with the bookmobile. She makes sure the bookmobile appears at every community event, from Aurora’s Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades to educational expos, summer events in community parks, and the city’s Harry Potter event when she transformed the bookmobile into the Knight Bus.

“By the time I started as director in 2014, she was an established manager with the best-run team in the library.”

Porter-Reynolds ended her nomination with a light touch: “All of that, and she can easily maneuver a forty-one-foot bus into a tight parking space. Kathleen is amazing!”

The John Philip Award Committee considered the following criteria in the selection of the winner:

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