Spokane librarian selected for national award

Most Americans are familiar with the Bill of Rights included in the U.S. constitution, but not many know the American Library Association also has a Bill of Rights, adopted in 1939.

Vanessa Strange, librarian at the North Spokane Library, knows all about it. Recently, the Spokane County Library District announced Strange has won the Gordon M. Conable Award from the Public Library Association because of her commitment to intellectual freedom and the Library Bill of Rights.

She won the award for her role in creating library exhibits and programming that show a dedication to free and uncensored information for the community – important tenets of the aforementioned Bill of Rights.

Strange has always loved learning and libraries.

“Once a week my parents took me to the downtown library when it was in the old Sears building,” she said.

The Lewis and Clark graduate earned a degree in anthropology from the University of Washington and tried a variety of jobs. Nine years ago, she took a page position at the library and enjoyed it so much; she ended up earning her master’s degree in library science and information in 2012.

“I love seeing people get excited about topics,” she said.

Over the course of 2016, Strange developed programs that promoted community dialogue on controversial issues. For example, she wrote the grant and facilitated the Smithsonian exhibit “Exploring Human Origins” at the North Spokane Library in January.

“We anticipated negative feedback because we’re in a primarily conservative community,” Strange said. “We tried to be inclusive and incorporated religion and spirituality in the discussion of what it means to be human.”

Pastors as well as scientists presented during various programs.

“You can have a religious life and still be able to embrace and understand the science,” she said.

In preparation for the event, she created a handbook for library staff to help them navigate…

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