Livonia library named ‘Public Library of the Year’

State Sen. George Borrello and Assembylwoman Marjorie Byrnes recognized the Livonia Public Library's recent selection as "Public Library of the Year" with a proclamation. Pictured are, from left, Town of Livonia Board Member Peter Dougherty, Senator Borrello's Regional Representative Jim Culbertson, Library Director Frank Sykes, state Senator George Borrello, Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, Library Trustee Rick Williams, Library Trustee Liz Smith-Rossiter. Library Board President Christine Cruso. Library Board Secretary Pat Genthner and Library Trustee Mae Sharman.

LIVONIA – Livonia Public Library has been named “Public Library of the Year” by the Rochester Regional Library Council.

“This ultimate acknowledgment is a testament to our collective drive and shared goals of helping the residents of our community,” said Library Director Frank Sykes said. “From the support of both the town and library boards, the consistent backing of the Friends of the Livonia Public Library, and the engagement of the entire community, we all share in this award.”

Sykes said library staff have been “absolutely critical to the achievements” of the library.

“They are the face of the Livonia Pubic Library and this award is confirmation of their daily commitment to helping our community,” Sykes said.

The Rochester Regional Library Council is a not-for-profit organization that brings together libraries of all types to work on collaborative projects that improve library services in the five-county Rochester region – Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Wayne and Wyoming counties.

The annual RRLC competition recognizes three libraries across the council’s service area – one public, one school and one academic or specialty library – for general excellence. This is the 12th year that libraries have been recognized.

The council named SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library as its “Academic Library of the Year.” The library’s director is Corey Ha.

This year, 37 different libraries received nominations, according to RRLC.

Nominations are made by library patrons.

Winners receive a banner and engraved plaque to hang in their library, a cash prize and have traditionally been recognized by the council at its annual meeting.

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, and Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, R-Caledonia, recently presented a proclamation to Sykes and members of the Library Board of Trustees honoring the library’s recognition.

“We wanted to acknowledge the exceptional service the Livonia Public Library has provided its community before the pandemic, and for going above and beyond to keep that same level of service during the pandemic while ensuring the safety of library staff and the public,” Borrello said.

Livonia Public Library shutdown March 15, 2020, and extended due dates on materials as the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 began arriving in the area.

The library remained closed into June, when it began slowly reopening - first by reopening its book drop June 15, 2020, so that patrons could return items. Curbside service began the following week, allowing patrons to call ahead to request items that staff would gather and leave for patrons to pick up. By the end of June, limited in-library services such as using computers, and copying, printing, scanning or faxing, resumed by appointment.

During the library’s closure, staff developed more resources and content on the library’s website and social media pages. They also adapted library programs, such as “Storytime with Miss Pam” and “Zoom Maker Space,” for a virtual environment, and offered “PJ Virtual Storytime” on its Facebook page.

Borrello said Livonia Public Library has become “a true community center” during Sykes’ tenure. Sykes became library director Nov. 26, 2008.

The library serves about 8,000 residents.

“Libraries not only entertain people, they also help them transform their lives. That is certainly true of the Livonia Public Library, which is devoted to helping the residents of its community,” he said. “As the region was gripped by COVID-19, Mr. Sykes and his staff took steps to ensure the safety of library patrons while keeping them informed and providing the resources they needed.”

Byrnes said the Livonia Public Library’s role in the community is invaluable.

“It was an honor to have our friends and neighbors in Livonia receive such a significant recognition from the Rochester Regional Library Council. Libraries have evolved into important multi-purpose community centers,” Assemblywoman Byrnes said.

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