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Library Friend, Partner Win 2018 FLA Awards

Florida Library Association Honors ‘Matriarch of Neighborhood’ and United Way of NE Florida  

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 1, 2018 – The Florida Library Association (FLA) has recognized two outstanding partners of the Jacksonville Public Library, and bestowed its highest annual honor on each for distinguished activities, and for leadership and significant contribution in support of library services. The FLA Outstanding Citizen Award was given to Ms. Sharon Coon, founder and chair of the Friends of the Brentwood Library. The FLA Outstanding Business Partner Award was granted to United Way of Northeast Florida for its ReadingPals partnership with the library. Awards were accepted by honorees and library staff at the Annual FLA Conference in Orlando, Florida, May 23, 2018.

Ms. Sharon Coon, fondly known as the “Matriarch of the Neighborhood,” received the FLA Outstanding Citizen Award for efforts in organizing and uniting the JPL Friends Advocacy Group comprising nine Friends’ groups, and advocating successfully through press conferences, meetings with City Council, and media appearances for the FY18 budget for JPL; for notable activities and achievements as founder and chair of the Friends of the Brentwood Library, which has grown to 40 members; for campaigning to save the Brentwood Branch Library from closure—twice; and for her unwavering mission to support children’s education and well-being through library programs.

United Way of Northeast Florida was honored with the FLA Outstanding Business Partner Award for its ReadingPals partnership with JPL, which began at the inception of the program in 2012. ReadingPals ensures Florida Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) students are prepared for kindergarten through early-learning and developmental activities. The library supports ReadingPals by holding book drives at all 21 library locations, collecting thousands of books to build home libraries for the children; by providing training, recruitment and referral of volunteers to read books to children; and by creating recommended age-appropriate reading lists. Pre- and -post assessment scores showed that the ReadingPals program improved children’s reading skills.

Tim Rogers, director of the Jacksonville Public Library, said, “We are so proud of our partners and congratulate them on this much deserved recognition. The library simply couldn’t do what we do without their support. Friends’ leaders such as Ms. Coon are a driving force to support funding to provide relevant, educational programs and to reach more kids. The United Way ReadingPals initiative and partnership is a natural tie-in with the library’s priority for youth literacy—and it has proven results.” 

Florida Library Association

The Florida Library Association is a statewide organization that promotes excellence in Florida libraries by advocating strongly for libraries and providing high quality professional and leadership development for a diverse community of library staff, volunteers and supporters. Each year FLA recognizes outstanding libraries, businesses, libraries, and library supporters during its annual conference. The awards are open to all libraries in the State of Florida, including but not limited to academic, public, special and school libraries.   

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 5.1 million times, and over 14,000 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

Friday, June 1, 2018

Jacksonville Public Library