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Army librarian honored as best in federal government

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Oct. 22, 2009) -- An Army librarian was named Federal Librarian of the Year for 2008 during a ceremony Oct. 22, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Verlene Herrington, chief, U.S. Army Military Intelligence Library, Fort Huachuca, Ariz., received the award during the opening of a forum by the Federal Library and Information Center Committee.

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Herrington has run the library at Fort Huachuca, which serves the intelligence community there, since 2003. She was nominated for the award, in part, for her work in 2008 in obtaining funding for, assisting in the design of, and overseeing the million-dollar renovation project of her library.

Today, the library at Fort Huachuca averages 700 on-sight visitors daily -- an increase in attendance of more than 30 percent in fiscal year 2008. Herrington additionally spearheaded expansion of library services by inviting the foreign language center to relocate to the heart of the campus, and having classified networking terminals installed and available for Soldiers to do classified research.

"I had a rare opportunity to create a library from scratch -- most librarians never get to do that," Herrington said about her experience at the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Library. When she began there, the library was little more than an empty warehouse. "I started with nothing except books on the floor. No air conditioning, no computers, no customers. It was a wonderful opportunity for my staff and me to create what we thought our customers would want."

Serving customers and meeting their needs is what being a good librarian is all about, Herrington said.

"I think that what makes this library different is that we created this for the young Soldier," she said. "We didn't create this from the mindset of a librarian. What do these young Soldiers -- the millennial generation -- want in information services? This library is fun, full of color and action. It's high-tech, it's noisy, it's busy. Last year our circulation went up 80 percent. The library has been successful beyond my wildest dreams. Part of it is because we truly love our customers."

Maj. Gen. John M. Custer, commanding, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, addressed attendees at the ceremony -- federal librarians -- about how Herrington has developed the library at Fort Huachuca to meet the needs of Soldiers and how she remains flexible in serving the needs of Soldiers there.

"The key to being a librarian today, in my estimation, is flexibility," Custer said. "And Dr. Harrington embodies that. She has created an incredible center, not just a library. Libraries have to respond to the customer, and librarians have to know their clientele, that's why she has been so successful. That's why she is so incredibly agile and flexible."

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