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Legislators Are Library 'Sweethearts'

Rep. Joy Hearn and Sen. David Bates of Barrington and Riverside are recognized with RI Coalition of Library Advocates awards.

Legislators Joy Hearn and David Bates are “sweethearts.”

The Rhode Island Coalition of Library Advocates (COLA) presented Rep. Joy Hearn (D – Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Sen. David Bates (R – Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) with its "Sweethearts of the Year Award" on Feb. 12. 

The award recognizes people for their distinguished service to Rhode Island’s libraries, according to COLA.

“Libraries continue to be quiet sanctuaries in a time when most people are plugged into their media devices all day long and responsibilities seem never-ending,” said Hearn, a librarian at Barrington High School. “The younger generations may see these establishments as somewhat antiquated, but libraries are so much more than a resting place for books. They’re really community centers filled with some of the best resources in each city and town. It’s important that we keep libraries relevant and support the lifeblood of our communities.”

Bates said libraries need the support of its patrons now more than ever because of the changing landscape of library services and digital publishing.

“I am proud to support Rhode Island libraries in any way I can,” said Bates. “If you think about it, they really are remarkable places. We have to remember that they remain a privilege – the access to such a wealth of information in one place and at no cost cannot always be substituted by the Internet. It’s a place that allows us to expand our minds at our leisure and explore topics in more depth than we ever thought we could.”

A blog post on the COLA website highlights the various achievements of the legislators. It says: “The two are shining examples of bipartisan effectiveness: they co-chair the Karla Harry Commission on Libraries, formed in 2006 to study how our public [kindergarten through Grade 12], college and special libraries can work together effectively, save money and deliver the best possible library service to all Rhode Islanders.” 

The ceremony took place during COLA’s annual meeting in the governor’s State Room at the State House. The event also featured keynote speaker Renee Hobbs – founding director and professor in the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island – and an awards ceremony for two URI Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) students who were chosen as this year’s COLA scholarship recipients. 

COLA is a grassroots library support group that seeks to improve the quality of life through advocacy, education, public awareness campaigns and the support of library services throughout Rhode Island, according to the organization.

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