The Virginia Library Association established the VLA Library School Scholarship in 1991 as a way to “encourage and enable qualified Virginia residents to enter and practice the profession of librarianship in the Commonwealth.” VLA hoped that providing financial sup-port to a deserving student enrolled in library school would enhance a growing pool of qualified candidates for library positions in Virginia.

In 1993, a second scholarship was created because of the large number of outstanding applicants seeking aid. In 2000, a third schol-arship was added as part of the VLA Paraprofessional Forum. It was named in honor of Clara Stanley in 2002. Each scholarship is in the amount of $2,000.

“Receiving the VLA Scholarship and earning an MLIS are two of my most gratifying achievements.”

With much help from various people, I have compiled a list of former recipients. My apologies to anyone whose name may have been omitted.

Carolyn Gardner

Carolyn Gardner, a 1999 scholarship winner.

Former recipients
1991 Jo Brown
1992 Sydney Simpson
1993 Stella Poole
Ethel Hellman
1994 Marianne Ramsden
1995 Catherine Laine Cheely
Jean Johnston
1996 Elizabeth Burns
Mary Murphy
1997 Shelia Chimento
Sara Kay Brazelton
1998 Anne Anderson
Jay Lahlou
1999 Carolyn Adele Gardner
Louise Taylor
2000 Claudia Covert (VLAPF)
Christian Anderson
Sandra Shell
2001 Iris Taylor (VLAPF)
Merrill Chertok
Zewdu Mantegbot
2002 Ophelia Payne (VLAPF)
Tammy Hines
2003 Steve Litherland (VLAPF)
Sherie Orton
Charles Hillen
2004 Susan Larson (VLAPF)
Julie Short (in memory of April Bohannan)
Heather Blicher

In preparation for the centennial of VLA, after compiling the list of former recipients, I emailed them and asked, “How did the schol-arship impact your life? Where has your career taken you?” The following are the responses I received.

Jo Brown—1991

“I was the first recipient of the VLA Scholarship. I received my MLS from Catholic University in 1992. My husband and I had worked out a plan for him to take a sabbatical in the Washington, D.C., area so that I could work on an MLS. We had two kids in college and were feeling that this decision was financially shaky. As we were moving into our apartment in the D.C. area, the phone rang (we did not know that our phone service was connected, so this was surprising!). It was Susan McCarthy telling me that I was to receive the scholarship. This gave me such a boost. I knew everything would work out and we wouldn’t end up in the poor house. I came back to my job as Children’s Coordinator in 1992. Since then, I have been Head of Technical Services, Head of Collections, Associate Director, Interim Director, Head of Reference Services, Coordinator of building projects, and am now Special Projects Coordinator. I took a leave of absence again in 1999–2000 and was an elementary school librarian for a year. I have loved every library job I’ve had, and having an MLS has opened up a variety of opportunities for me. I have been able to learn about many aspects of library work. This has kept the job interesting and stimulating throughout my career. I will always be grateful to VLA for its encouragement.”

“I feel much more comfortable and secure in my profession by having the master’s degree.”

Sydney Simpson—1992

“I won the scholarship in 1992 and I received my degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1995. I haven’t budged from the public library that I have loved from the beginning—the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg, where I have worked for the past sixteen years. It was my local public library when I was in college and I have been devoted ever since. I have two roles here. I run the Circulation Department at the Headquarters Branch, and I supervise three of our rural branches in Westmoreland County. The VLA Scholarship got me out of a tight spot, indeed. I remember that I had even gathered the paperwork together to take a leave of absence from school for at least one semester, until I could scrape together the tuition costs. I was elated to be able to continue, and I have been grateful to, and have promoted, the VLA Scholarship ever since.”

Stella Poole—1993

“I began working as a paraprofessional with Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in 1979. Over the years, I have spent time in Circula-tion, Children’s Services, Outreach, and most recently as the Coordinator for the Monticello Avenue Community Information Network. I participated in the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s distance education program and earned an MLIS in 1995. The VLA Scholarship provided much-needed financial assistance and enabled me to complete my coursework while continuing to work full-time at the library. Receiving the VLA Scholarship and earning an MLIS are two of my most gratifying achievements. I have been a member of VLA for over twenty years and am an avid supporter of the annual Scholarship Fund Raffle.”

Marianne Ramsden—1994

“I got my scholarship in 1994 and graduated in 1995. I began the studies in order to get a better feeling for my job as a branch manager. In those days, branch managers did not have to have a master’s degree, but I knew that demand would be a certainty in a few years. I feel much more comfortable and secure in my profession by having the master’s degree. Had I not received the scholarship, it would have been far more difficult to obtain the degree as quickly as I did. Another facet of being honored by the scholarship committee was that I began serving on the committee in 1997 and became its chair a year later and served for several terms. It was a very rewarding position, since giving away money is a very pleasant task!”

Carolyn Adele Gardner—1999

“I was lucky enough to receive a VLA scholarship in 1999 that helped me get started in the distance education program at Florida State University. This was a major step for me—I was working full-time for very little money (though I loved that museum library and wanted to be able to stay in special collections), and I was already struggling under a mountain of debt from my master’s in English. Without VLA’s financial support and vote of confidence, I might not have been able to begin my studies. I graduated in 2003, and today, I’m a cataloger at Hampton Public Library and co-editor of Virginia Libraries. One of the greatest things about VLA is the feeling of community, the sense of support, and the willingness of members to share their knowledge to help one another. I’m proud to be part of this organization.”

Sandra Shell—2000

“I received the VLA Scholarship in 2000. It came as a wonderful surprise. I had two sons in college at the time and my husband was living and working out of state due to his job transfer. The added expense of another college degree did not seem feasible. However, I loved my job at the library. When I was offered the position of Branch Manager with the provision that I obtain my MLS, I quickly decided that is what I would do. I obtained my degree from Florida State University through its online long-distance program. It was a difficult time of much study, work, and effort, but I completed my degree in 2001. I learned so much during those studies. The scholarship was indeed a factor in opening many doors for me. I have been the branch manager at the Collinsville Public Library since then. I have also continued to be active in my community in various civic organizations and serve on the local community college board. I am active in the VLA organization, and serve as chair of the Scholarship Committee. I also am a member of PLA.”

Christina Anderson—2000

“After receiving the VLA Scholarship in 2000, I moved to Tennessee, but continued to work at the Bristol Public Library, in both the location on the Virginia side of the state line, and in the location on the Tennessee side. I received my master’s degree via the online distance education option through the University of Tennessee. Even though I no longer live in Virginia, I’ve kept up my membership and have taken the seeds of giving that were so graciously bestowed upon me when I began my professional career in Virginia and have planted those seeds here in Tennessee to hopefully help others who might not be able to afford graduate school without such assistance. I have been working in the Tennessee Library Association to create a Scholarship Program. The VLA Scholarship took me someplace I never dreamed I would go: it helped me to attain an educational feat that I had only dreamed of before; it helped to make it possible fi-nancially for me to continue working in a library environment while taking classes without the added expense of loans to repay later; and it instilled in me a desire to help others who might need such assistance. I will never forget the VLA Scholarship and what an honor it was to be one of the recipients in 2000. Regardless of where I hang my professional hat and what professional feats I am able to accomplish, I will always remember that Virginia is where it all began—and I am proud of that fact.”

“I have been working in the Tennessee Library Association to create a Scholarship Program.”

Merrill Chertok—2001

“I won the VLA Scholarship in 2001. I earned my degree almost entirely online via distance education through the University of Wis-consin at Milwaukee and graduated in 2002. Receipt of the VLA scholarship enabled me to continue my studies with lessened financial stress and complete my degree in a reasonable amount of time. I was also among the first group of students to attain an MLS entirely through distance education, and I’m proud to be a mentor for others who have chosen this route, both at UWM and elsewhere. I work as the Law Library Director for the Alexandria Law Library, located in the city courthouse of Alexandria, and have worked in that position since 1996.”

Zewdu Manteqbot—2001

“I won the scholarship in 2001 while attending my studies at the Catholic University of America. I graduated in May 2003 and I am now working at the Arlington Public Library. To win the scholarship at a time when I was working full-time and going to school was very encouraging. This is a program where we help each other for our professional development and it is something that should be supported by all of us.”

Ophelia Payne—2002

“I won my scholarship in 2002, which was the first year of the Clara P. Stanley VLAPF Scholarship. I received my master’s degree from Florida State University School of Information Studies. I am currently employed with J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College as Coordinator of the Learning Resources Center__–__Western Campus, and Head of Media Processing. This scholarship helped me continue my educational goals of being a professional librarian and made a big difference in my life because I am doing something I love.”

Tammy Hines—2002

“The VLA Scholarship in 2002 allowed me to pursue my education with some financial breathing room. The scholarship paid the ma-jority of my tuition for a semester, which allowed me to take off from work to complete major projects during the academic crunch time. I completed my MLS from Florida State University on May 1, 2004. I am currently serving as the Interim Reader Services Librarian at Longwood University.”

George Oberle III—2002

“I am currently the Multi-Media and History Liaison Librarian at George Mason University. This year I was nominated and was chosen as one of Library Journal ’s Movers and Shakers. I finished the MLS program at the University of Maryland in December 2003. The VLA Scholarship was a significant aid to me financially. In addition, it was a psychological boost that reinforced my decision to become a librarian. I am grateful to VLA for the support that they gave to me.”

“…it was a psychological boost that reinforced my decision to become a librarian ….”

Charles Hillen—2003

“I won the VLA Scholarship in 2003. I started my LIS degree through distance education at the University of Tennessee in the fall semester of 2002 while working as the Lead Cataloger at the Old Dominion University Library. I began working in a librarian’s position as the Head of Acquisitions at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles in August 2004. I appreciated the scholarship so much. It made me feel very supported and encouraged that VLA was recognizing the fact that the degree is very important and that my work experiences and aspirations were valued. I feel that VLA is wonderful for providing this scholarship opportunity in light of the fact that there are no MLIS, MLS, or MIS degrees offered in Virginia. I can definitely report that the education has helped me very much in my work as a librarian.”

Julie Short—2004

“As the 2004 recipient of the VLA scholarship given in memory of April Bohannan, I am currently enrolled at Florida State University. By the end of my second semester, I will have completed twelve hours toward the degree with an anticipated graduation date of spring 2007. I remain employed at Lonesome Pine Regional Library in the position of Library Coordinator. The coursework at FSU has proven to be very stimulating, and the knowledge I am gaining is invaluable. Words cannot express my deepest appreciation to members of the Scholarship Committee for their belief in my abilities that led to this wondrous opportunity.”

Heather Blicher—2004

“I am working toward a Master of Science in Information Studies from Florida State University through the Online Distance Program. I continue to work full-time at Virginia Beach Central Library as an Information Specialist II. For me, receiving the VLA Scholarship has been the highlight of my year by not only allowing me to take more classes toward my degree, but also making me feel as if the work that I do is appreciated by the profession. I consider it an honor to have been chosen to receive this scholarship and I aim to do it justice by completing my degree and encouraging others in the profession to pursue their studies. Thank you for believing in me.”

The recipients for 2005 are:
Rachel Kirkland—VLAPF
Heather Blicher
Maria Alliende

It has been rewarding to hear from these librarians and to see the variety of paths taken, many as a result of the VLA Scholarship. One theme throughout has been appreciation and gratitude for the scholarship. I sincerely hope that VLA will be able financially to continue this program for the next one hundred years!