Library Champions Reception
ALA President Roberta Stevens and Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels at the Library Champions Reception @ala11.
During Thursday night’s reception recognizing ALA’s Library Champions, Major Donors, and Legacy Society members, ALA President Roberta Stevens acknowledged the contributions of John Ison and Thomas Phelps to the library community in honor of their retirements.
John Ison, Director of Library Relations at DEMCO, received his MLS from the University of Denver and worked at the Colorado State Library and Durango Public Library prior to joining DEMCO, where he has been a strong presence for 25 years. John has represented DEMCO on ALA’s Library Business Alliance (LBA), which works with legislators in support of library-related issues, since its inception in 2002. He has been a prominent voice on ALA’s Exhibits Round Table, and been a vital link between our Association and our partners.
Through his work at DEMCO, one of ALA’s Library Champions, John has shown his and DEMCO’s great support for numerous worthy projects and activities, awards to many individuals and programs, and other activities supportive of libraries and librarians.
Thomas Phelps, retiring Director of the Division of Public Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities, has been a member of ALA for more 40 years. After earning his MLS degree at the University of Oregon, Phelps had a long career starting at the Salt Lake City Public library and culminating in his promotion to Director of Public Program at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2006. Tom has served on numerous committees of ALA, including service as Chair of the Planning Committee from 1982–84 and multiple committees of the Public Library Association.
Throughout his career, Tom has shown a deep passion and a belief that libraries are places where Americans can engage in important public discourse on issues central to democracy and lifelong learning.
After joining the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1980, Tom helped facilitate numerous grants, supporting state programs, exhibits, and reading and discussion groups.
In collaboration with ALA and with a $1.5-million grant from NEH, Tom launched “Let’s Talk About It” in 1984, a reading and discussion program in all 50 states. In the 1990s, he developed the Small Grants to Libraries program, which provides funds to local libraries hosting national traveling exhibitions, allowing library staff to conduct related programming activities. Working as Director of Public Programs at NEH since 2006, Tom has overseen the creation of several new grant programs inviting innovative uses of emerging technologies.
Roberta Stevens thanked the two honorees and all supporters of ALA in attendance for their dedication and support on behalf of libraries.