United for Libraries awarded a Trustee Citation award to Cedar Rapids Public Library Board of Trustees member Susan McDermott at the American Library Assocation’s annual conference on June 24.
Established in 1941 to recognize public library trustees for distinguished service to library development, the award honors the best contributions and efforts of the estimated 60,000 American citizens who serve on library boards. Only one or two trustees are selected for the prestigious award each year.
United for Libraries is an association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations and is part of the American Library Association. The mission of United for Libraries is to support those who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for all types of libraries.
McDermott began serving on the Library Board on Jan. 17, 2007, and served as Vice President from July 2010-June 2012 and President from July 2012-June 2014. She has served as Chair of the Nominating, Personnel & Policy, Director Search, and Public Art committees. She is currently Personnel & Policy Chair.
“Throughout her time at the library, Susie has pushed her directors and peers to think bigger, go further, and break barriers to library service. Her steadfast and passionate commitment to intellectual freedom and unfettered access to materials for all is unparalleled. She is a true library champion and so deserving of this special citation,” Library Director Dara Schmidt said.
When the Flood of 2008 destroyed the downtown library, McDermott was among the board members tasked with the rebuilding process and disaster recovery, all while searching for a new library director.
She played an integral role in the design of both the new Downtown Library and Ladd Library and their 2013 openings, after which the library received several prestigious awards, including the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
A passionate advocate for inclusion and access and freedom of information, she has helped shape library policy and overseen the development of multiple library strategic plans.
Before serving on the Library Board, McDermott served on the board of the Friends of the Cedar Rapids Public Library, beginning in 1976, and was a past president of that organization. She also served on the board of the Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation during construction of the 1985 downtown library.
In addition to her support of the library, McDermott was a member of the Cedar Rapids Community School District School Board from 1985 to 2003, and was president of the School Board and president-elect of the Iowa Association of School Boards when her tenure ended. She has also served with numerous community boards and organizations, including as past president of the United Way of East Central Iowa, the YMCA Board of Directors, the Junior League, and the Science Station.