Lisa Wemett Awarded NYLA’s First Above and Beyond Award
By Terry Mulee and Joyce Laiosa
Lisa C. Wemett was awarded NYLA’s “Above and Beyond” award from her work with the organization’s Youth Services Section (YSS) and now the Friends of Libraries Section. Lisa was a member of NYLA throughout her working career, and now as a retiree, she is still involved with the organization. Lisa has held every position on the YSS Board except treasurer, and she has held the director position on multiple occasions. Lisa continues with YSS as our archivist.
She worked on the 2009 YSS Spring Conference Planning Committee, as the conference was going to be held in Rochester. A year later, Lisa was called upon to step in and assume the role of YSS Director once again, and head up the 2011 YSS Conference. She said yes and gathered up the 2009 committee, minus a few and plus a few members to put together another conference. She worked tirelessly to get caught up on the timetable and once again, a successful conference was held. She then re-organized the entire YSS Spring Conference Manual with new forms, timelines, and useful, pertinent information for YSS future spring conference planners.
As luck would have it, the City of Rochester would host the spring conference again in 2013. Lisa, seeing an opportunity, began planning and building the foundation for NYLA/YSS to apply to host the 2013 ALA/ALSC May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture in Rochester in conjunction with the YSS Spring Conference and the Rochester Teen Book Festival. The timing also coincided with Rochester’s annual Lilac Festival. She was pushing a destination weekend! Lisa was the point person on the committee for YSS. She partnered with Nazareth College (which also hosted the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival), she had letters of support sent from every library school along the upstate corridor from Buffalo to Albany. She had letters of support from school districts, tourist destinations, local colleges and more. Michael Morpurgo was chosen to give the lecture, a British children’s author, and Rochester was chosen to host. Lisa was tireless in getting every detail right for the lecture, working with YSS and ALA/ALSC.
The EFR Board, with encouragement from Jeremy Johannesen and NYLA Council, circulated a petition for a change in status from a Roundtable of NYLA to a Section of NYLA. The required 300 signatures were acquired at the EFR booth on the Trade Show Floor in Niagara Falls. That petition was submitted to NYLA Council and accepted. The next step in “section-hood’ was the acceptance vote by the NYLA membership at the 2014 NYLA Annual Membership Meeting. In preparation for the anticipated changes, Lisa led a committee to revise the by-laws for EFR. This “cleaning up” of the document will make it much easier to adapt the current version for the new section. “I cannot stress enough the importance of volunteerism in your career,” says Wimett about her honor. “You are a professional at your paid job. You need to have that same work ethic in a parallel volunteer life where you can make a difference to your colleagues and to libraries you have never been in, just by doing your best.”