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Library Director Barbara Gubbin Wins 2017 Ernest Dimattia Award (April 4, 2017)

ALA Award Recognizes Innovation and Service to Community and Profession

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., April 4, 2017 – Jacksonville Public Library Director Barbara A. B. Gubbin was chosen by the American Library Association to receive the 2017 Ernest A. DiMattia, Jr. Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession. The award, supported by the DiMattia Family, recognizes a public librarian who demonstrates leadership in anticipating emerging trends in services, products and technologies that will enhance the library’s position in its community. The winner also participates in the life of the community using membership in and volunteer service through a broad range of community organizations and projects. Gubbin will be presented with the award, along with $5,000, and a plaque at the upcoming annual ALA Conference June 22 – 27, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

Gubbin is being honored for her many accomplishments throughout her library leadership career in which she significantly increased library access for children, engineered library advances even in the tightest economic times, and built strong connections between urban core populations and their public library.

From her John Cotton Dana Award-winning program in Houston that tripled the number of children with library cards from 100,000 to 300,000, to the partnership with Duval County Public Schools that put library cards in the hands of 130,000 students, Gubbin’s results-oriented innovations that enable youth literacy may best be summed up by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who said “Through persistence and infectious passion for the library, she has built the strongest partnership with Duval County Public School System that JPL has had in years.”

Gubbin’s ingenuity also extends into business development of the library in spite of budget constraints and fiscal policy changes. When the city’s budget was reduced by $4M in 2012, she took actions that not only maintained but also fortified valuable library resources. In what Mark Merritt, deputy director for Administration and Finance at JPL, calls “a miracle of tightrope walking to somehow manage to keep the Conference Center going in these very difficult and challenging fiscal times,” Gubbin repositioned the Conference Center at the Main Library from a city-funded operation to an independently run, entrepreneurial, revenue-generating enterprise. She also continued to lead the library to host inventive programming during the downturn, which netted the library recognition as an Urban Libraries Council Top Innovator in 2015 with an award for its Transparent Language cultural immersion program.

Recognized by city officials including Councilman Bill Gulliford, as a director who is “passionate in securing funds for her library system,” Gubbin worked with the Board of Library Trustees to secure $1 million to restore library hours at 11 libraries in the years following the budget cuts.

Gubbin’s passion for her profession and drive to make education a priority is reflected in many powerful community partnerships and innovations for underserved populations. A library first, the Jacksonville Public Library partnered with Nemours Children’s Hospital for Nemours BrightStart!—an early childhood literacy program for parents of children from birth through age 5. When Learn to Read, an adult literacy program, was forced to close its doors, Gubbin offered space at the Main Library, where it is still co-located with the Center for Adult Learning. Last year, Learn to Read expanded and now has an additional location in a renovated space at a branch library.

Gubbin was the first to jump at the chance to offer Career Online High School when the program was offered to libraries in Florida. The program, which gives adult high school dropouts an opportunity to earn an accredited high school diploma, boasts more than 19 graduates with diplomas and career certifications, and more than 90 students in progress in its second year. With Project LEAP (Library Enhanced Access Program), an outreach program that focuses on early literacy, computer literacy, and adult literacy, the library partners with community organizations to take resources into neighborhoods, to those with the greatest needs. In its first year, Project LEAP programs had more than 6,500 attendees, and the program continues into 2017.

As an active member of the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville, Gubbin served as vice chairman of education from 2008 – 2014. She facilitated a special partnership with the council creating extensive reading lists themed around council speakers, and the library has been hosting Great Decisions adult programs since 2008. The partnership with the Jacksonville Symphony has involved library staff providing pre-concert programs, hosting music programs at libraries for children and hosting the music director for public programs while the symphony has reciprocated with special discount offerings for library customers.

Gubbin is also a co-founder of Cultural Fusion, a group effort with many organizations such as the Museum of Science and History, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, and others throughout Jacksonville, which has shaped the vision that drives the cultural community to create unique programs, exhibits and experiences through collaborations.

During Gubbin’s tenure in Texas, she served as president of the Texas Library Association (TLA), the largest state library association in the U.S and was elected to the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) Board of Trustees for a six-year term. Active in the Florida Library Association (FLA), she has served on the Board and chaired its Legislative Committee. She has also been a Board member of the Northeast Florida Library Information Network (NEFLIN).  Elected to the Public Libraries Committee of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) she co-authored the IFLA Public Library Service Guidelines, focusing on public library standards of operation and service.

Gubbin was appointed director of the Jacksonville Public Library in 2005. She oversaw the opening of seven new libraries, including the 300,000 square-foot Main Library, and renovations under the Better Jacksonville Plan. Gubbin previously served as director of the Houston Public Library from 1995 – 2005, where innovative programs she initiated continue to grow and expand to this day.

About the Jacksonville Public Library

The mission of the Jacksonville Public Library is to enrich lives, build community and foster success  

by bringing people, information and ideas together. Last year, more than 3.4 million visits were made to Jacksonville Public Libraries, items were checked out more than 5.7 million times, and over 13,000 programs and services were offered to Duval County residents at the Main Library and 20 branch locations. For more information about the Jacksonville Public Library, call 630-BOOK (2665) or visit

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Jacksonville Public Library