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Late Athens regional library director Kathryn Ames honored posthumously

The Athens Regional Library System is proud to announce that the late Kathryn Ames, former director, has been posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS).

Each year, the Georgia Public Library Awards are granted to individuals who have made a profound impact on the lives of those in their communities. Kathryn Ames, who served Georgia public libraries for over 40 years, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. This prestigious recognition is a testament to Ames’ unwavering commitment to the Athens Regional Library System and her profound impact on public libraries across the state of Georgia.

Ames, who began her tenure with the Athens Regional Library System in 1973 and later became its director in 1986, left an indelible mark on the library community. Her reputation as a library leader was both immense and renowned, as acknowledged by colleagues and library professionals.

She passed away in retirement, on July 12, 2023.

Valerie Bell, the current Athens Regional Library director, shared her experience working with Ames: "Kathie was very helpful in getting me acclimated to my new position. Despite serving as director for almost 30 years, she continued to generously share her knowledge and insights over informal lunches."

One of Ames' notable contributions was her pivotal role in supporting the development of the Public Information Network for Electronic Services (PINES) in 1999. Serving on the first PINES steering committee, Ames contributed to the development of key policies and procedures that laid the foundation for the network. Today, PINES connects 300 libraries across 51 library systems, offering Georgians access to over 11 million books and materials.

Under Ames' leadership, the Athens Regional Library System received two National Leadership grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). These grants allowed the library to design and implement original service programs, including an expansion of services for the Hispanic community, which led to the recognition of the Pinewoods Library and Learning Center as one of the runners-up for Library Journal's Best Small Library in America award in 2009.

Ames was also instrumental in providing leadership training for library employees. She played a key role in creating Georgia's Public Library Institute for New and Creative Leadership Education (PINNACLE) and served as an instructor and mentor during its inaugural years. Many library employees trained under Ames currently hold leadership positions in libraries across Georgia.

“I have always had the highest admiration for Kathie’s willingness to raise her hand and be the first to try an innovative approach or a bold new project; she embraced the cutting edge,” said Julie Walker, vice chancellor for libraries and archives and state librarian. “And because she was an admired leader amongst her peers, she gave others a level of comfort with what seemed to be a crazy risk. She was proven right, as she was so many times.”

Upon her retirement in 2015, the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County honored Ames by naming the plaza in front of Athens-Clarke Library after her in recognition of her exceptional service.

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How else could someone deceased be honored except posthumously?

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