Manatee Libraries' Ava Ehde wins Librarian of the Year honors

  • Apr 17, 2017

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (April 17, 2017) -- Manatee County Public Libraries’ Services Manager Ava Ehde has been named 2017 Librarian of the Year by the Florida Library Association (FLA). The award recognizes outstanding and ongoing contributions to Florida librarianship.

2017 Florida Librarian of the Year Ava Ehde
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2017 Florida Librarian of the Year Ava Ehde

 This follows a winning year in 2016 where Manatee Libraries was honored with four awards, including Florida Library of the Year. Cheri Coryea, Director of Neighborhood Services, of which Manatee Libraries is a part, said Ehde has worked ceaselessly since she became manager in 2011 to help ensure the Manatee Libraries’ team meets the evolving needs of the community.
 
“Ava has elevated the level of commitment to libraries, the staff and the public since she took the helm to bring a wide range of programming and resources to our community. Her desire for every person in Manatee County to have access to free resources and services for life through their library card is becoming a reality,” said Coryea.
 
Coryea cites several new programs and services over the past two years as examples of Ehde’s commitment, including the I Am a Lifelong Learner Program, whereby a literacy coordinator conducts ongoing outreach to distressed communities in need of early childhood literacy through the use of literacy kits and instructional toys. Also, an Area 52 Creative Lab was added with contains state-of-the-art technology for teens to develop new skills in software, Arduino kits, robotics and industrial sewing. Manatee Libraries also introduced recently a new Voyagers travel program; 805 Literary Journal and unique collections, such as telescopes, binoculars and cake pans.
 
Kevin Beach, Library Operations Manager, believes Ehde played an integral role in the team’s winning of these awards.
 
“In just five years as an administrator Ava has reset the library’s priorities, raised the morale of a struggling staff, energized us to be more compassionate and community-aware, put us in position to consistently set circulation and use records and vaulted our reputation as an innovative organization that gets results,” said Beach.
 
As part of her objective to brand the library as a community center, rather than a book warehouse, Ehde has helped transform library space to make room for tutoring, art displays and special events, such as the annual Teen Recycled Fashion Show and Reading With the Rays, as well and a new business incubator for small business owners and the eventual creative labs in each location.
 
Manatee Libraries has been experiencing steady growth under Ehde’s management, both in the number of customers and materials checked out. Nearly 850,000 customers made use of its resources over 3.9 million times this past year, a record high. Downloads of digital ebook/eaudio/movies have continued to double each year, while technical training and computer assistance were up 16 percent. Libraries' program attendance has risen 60 percent since 2011 to 47,000.
 
Ehde is involved in both FLA and ALA (American Library Association), serving on Florida’s Leadership Development Committee. She also is this year’s Tampa Bay Library Consortium Board President and regularly presents at regional and national seminars and events.  
 
For more information, please contact Kelly Foster at kelly.foster@mymanatee.org or call (941) 748-5555, x6307.
 
About the Manatee County Public Library System: The Florida Library Association’s 2016 Library of Year and 2013 “Library Innovation” winner, the Manatee County Public Library System supports the County’s growing community and visitors through a wide range of educational and technological resources and programs at six facilities in downtown Bradenton (Riverwalk), the east county region, the south county area, Holmes Beach, Palmetto and Ellenton. This past year, Manatee Libraries was visited by nearly 850,000 customers who made use of its resources over 3.9 million times (a record high). Downloads of their digital ebook/eaudio/movies have continued to double each year, while technical training and computer assistance were up 16%. The 47,000 customers who attended their wide variety of informational and educational programs and events reflect an increase of 130% since 2006. For more information, call Downtown Library at (941) 748-5555, ext. 6307.

For more information on Manatee County Public Library System, visit mymanatee.org/library, follow them at facebook.com/MCPLS or twitter and instragram @manalibraries. For more information about Manatee County Government, call 941-748-4501 or visit mymanatee.org, facebook.com/manatee.county.fl or twitter @ManateeGov

For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at www.mymanatee.org or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manatee.county.fl and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.