Courtesy Daily Sitka Sentinel
Mt. Edgecumbe High School librarian Erika
Drain says she feels a little strange as an individual receiving the statewide
service award for librarians.
“I’m surprised I got this award, because
I’ve never done any of these service things by myself,” Drain said, noting she
has collaborated on most projects with local librarians and librarians across
Drain, the MEHS librarian for the last
eight years, is this year’s recipient of the Linda K. Barrett Service Award
given by the Alaska Association of School Librarians. The award is given
annually to a librarian who has demonstrated outstanding service to the school
library profession and provided significant contributions to state and local activities.
The honor was presented at the annual
AkASL conference banquet in February in Fairbanks.
“I almost didn’t make it to the awards,”
Drain said. She and Blatchley Middle School librarian Kari Sagel were exploring
a comic book store in Fairbanks on the afternoon of the banquet, when Sagel –
who knew Drain was going to receive the award – urged her friend out of the
store and to the event. Sitka High
librarian Ginny Blackson said the award is well deserved.
“She is one of the finest librarians I
have ever worked with,” Blackson said. “Her ability to meet the needs of one of
the most diverse patron groups has always amazed me. The students come from all
over the state and represent every culture, every reading level and every
Drain thinks she may have been selected for
the award for her work as co-chair of both the statewide Battle of the Books
program and her work on the Alaska Spirit of Reading. Drain said she enjoys
participating in both programs, particularly working with other Sitka
librarians who are also statewide leaders in reading programs.
“This group of librarians down here in
this town is pretty spectacular,” Drain said.
She participated in the project of “sorting,
archiving, loading and packing” the valuable book collection from Sheldon
Jackson College, after it closed in 2007.
Past president of AkASL Robin Turk said Drain has served on the
nonprofit organization’s board since 2005, and has “delivered innovative ideas
for improving the goals and services of AkASL.” Drain wrote grants for
providing READ poster CDs and training for librarians, wrote grants for
professional development, led the reform of association policies and “most
importantly worked to organize support for the passage and funding of the
School Library Collection Grant.”
news release from AkASL said that Drain coordinated a letter-writing campaign
to legislators, created flyers, brochures and a website to coordinate the
Drain more recently was instrumental in
the Sitka observance of World Book Night Monday, in which librarians, reading
advocates and staff from Old Harbor Books coordinated a book giveaway along a
bus route from Burkhart Street to O’Connell Bridge. The supply of several
hundred books ran out before the bus was able to cross the bridge to reach
Drain’s students at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, but plans were immediately
started to collect donations and finish the route this afternoon.
Drain rode the bus the whole way, getting
off at the various stops to pass out the eight selected titles, candy and
various other books.
Drain grew up in Montana and received her
degree in elementary education and art education from Montana State University
in Billings. She taught kindergarten through grade 8 for seven years in
Billings Catholic schools, then returned to school to receive a master’s degree
in technology from Leslie College in Cambridge, Mass.
She moved to Southwest Alaska in 2000, as
a technical integration specialist working with teachers on how to use
technology as a teaching tool. While working fulltime, Drain also earned her
librarian endorsement through the University of Washington distance learning
program, with two summers of on-campus studies. After receiving her
certificate, she became the Southwest Region School District library media
specialist, living in Dillingham and traveling from Koliganek to Tokiak. She
said she enjoys working at Mt. Edgecumbe High School.
“It is one of my favorite jobs ever,”
Drain said. “The kids who go here are great. There are a lot of people who are
starving for good literature who love coming in this library. And a lot of kids
who graduate, I hear from them, and they say, ‘I miss our library.’”
Drain said she was happy to receive the
statewide service award, but had a twinge of guilt. “I felt there should’ve
been several people in the award,” she said.