Two members of the Lowell Area Schools community were recognized earlier this month for their contributions toward the district’s library system.
Christine Beachler, director of Library Media Services, and Laurie Kuna, vice president of the LAS Board of Education, received honors from the Michigan Association of School Librarians at their statewide annual conference. Beachler received the 2023 District Library Director of the Year Award. Kuna received the 2023 Outstanding Board of Education Award.
Beachler, who serves in various leadership roles within the MASL and is the organization’s 2024 President-Elect, was awarded her honor based on her “exemplary leadership and direction to an overall district program,” according to a press release from the association.
Beachler oversees six LAS district libraries and eight library assistants.
“To receive the award for School District Library Director of the Year is such a wonderful honor,” Beachler tells Lowell’s First Look. “There truly isn’t any higher distinction as a school librarian than to be recognized by my colleagues throughout the state of Michigan for this prestigious award.”
“In addition to the honor of being presented with this award, to also receive the outpouring of support…from the Lowell Community has been amazing,” she says. “I simply can’t express how thankful I am to the people that have reached out to me to acknowledge this milestone in my career.”
Beachler advises community members to utilize the valuable resources available to them through public and school libraries in order to instill a love for learning and create life-long learners. She said books allow students to reflect, explore, and experience the world through a different lens.
“It is so important to read for enjoyment and teach your children to love reading, too. School libraries are considered the hub of the school and should be a place all students routinely visit and feel welcome, ” she says.
Kuna, who has served on the LAS Board since 2012 and was previously an educator for more than 30 years, was recognized for her “consistent and unique school library support.” It was Beachler who nominated Kuna for this award. In her nomination letter, Beachler cited Kuna’s “advocacy for First Amendment rights and her work to dismantle censorship” as a main part of the district’s success in keeping books in libraries. She also noted Kuna has been a great personal support.
Kuna says she, Beachler, and Lowell High School Principal Steve Gough have worked together to make libraries as accessible and user-friendly as possible for students and parents. She notes they added a FAQ section on the district library’s website and a system where parents can have control over what their children check out.
“The bottom line is if you have a child in our school district and you don’t want them to read something, or there’s some type of book that you don’t want them to be able to access, there is a system to remove it,” Kuna says.
MASL is a professional organization that has a membership of approximately 400 school librarians and educators representing Michigan school districts, universities, and educational programs across Michigan.