NAU library dean earns prestigious statewide award

Cynthia Childrey

Cynthia Childrey, Cline Library dean and university librarian, has been selected to receive the prestigious Polly Rosenbaum Award. Childrey is scheduled to receive the award on Statehood Day, Feb. 14, at the Arizona Capitol Museum.

The “Polly” Award is named after Polly Rosenbaum, who served 46 years in the Arizona House of Representatives, known as an advocate for education, libraries and historic preservation. The award acknowledges an individual or group who cherishes Arizona’s cultural resources and supports the work of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

Joan Clark, state librarian and director of the Arizona State Library, called the award prestigious. “Rosenbaum really believed in young people as the state’s greatest assets and the importance of understanding your state and its history. We try to model her behavior and encourage it by honoring those who have done similar work,” Clark said.

The proclamation that named Childrey as this year’s winner emphasized her collaborative on-campus efforts, leadership in expanding uses for university spaces and creation of statewide partnerships.

Childrey has been working in libraries for 35 years, nearly 25 at NAU. Her love of libraries began during childhood and she learned volumes by holding a variety of positions, a background she credits for her perspective and ability to see possibilities.

As the Internet developed and people predicted the demise of libraries, some librarians, like Childrey, seized opportunities and used emerging technologies to enhance offerings.

“Libraries are very different places today, but our core values include partnering with others, sharing resources and ideas and getting things done together,” said Childrey, referring to her Cline colleagues and to collaborations with community colleges, other libraries, cultural organizations and museums throughout the state.

In addition to sharing resources with learners in more rural parts of Arizona, Childrey has helped NAU faculty use the growing pool of technology offerings. Last fall, the Cline Library Learning Studio opened where faculty members’ use of different mediums has created an active-learning classroom and enhanced student engagement.

Cline Library has quiet study areas as well as plenty of spaces for students to work with others on projects. “If you walk through our library it is absolutely packed, so I think it is still very much an intellectual and academic core, a learning space,” Childrey said.

As technology expands, Childrey is focused on making sure NAU continues to stay ahead of educational trends to better serve tomorrow’s students, an approach that likely contributed to her winning the Polly Rosenbaum Award.

“I understand that Polly Rosenbaum was persistent and I think that is kind of what it’s been about for me: working together, working hard to get things accomplished, always having in mind the people we serve and persistence,” Childrey said.

Previous winners include Arizona Board of Regents chair Mark Killian and Ken Bennett, former Arizona secretary of state.