CSULB Professor Lesley Farmer was recently named the California Library Association (CLA) Member of the Year at the second CLA Annual Awards Banquet Gala, held at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach.
The award is given in recognition of an individual member of the CLA for his/her outstanding contributions, leadership and achievements in service to California’s libraries.
“This recognition is an honor. I consider it the most prestigious award the association offers because it honors professional commitment over a number of years and is a selection made by my peers,” said Farmer, who joined the Educational Psychology, Administration and Counseling Department in 1999.
Farmer has a long record of service to the CLA, including terms as Children and Young Adult Services Section president, Information Technology Section president, newsletter editor, assembly member, Continuing Education Committee member, Research and Publications Committee chair and Conference Planning Committee member.
The CLA also reviews nominees’ impact on their profession. Farmer has helped to develop school library professionals in California since her arrival in the state in 1983. She rejuvenated the library credential program at CSULB, and her new comprehensive master’s program offers students more choices of career paths. Farmer also has published more than 20 books in librarianship and is the most recent recipient of the CSULB Distinguished Scholar and Achievement Award.
In 2007, she presented at the International Association for School Librarianship Conference in Taipei; the American Library Association Conference in Washington, D.C.; the Special Library Association Conference in Denver; the Education Institute in Toronto; and at conferences in Ontario, Anaheim, Palm Springs and San Francisco. She also presented a paper on value-added digital reference sources before the Association of Communications and Educational Technology national conference held in October.
Farmer recalls her arrival in 1999 to find a library media teacher credential program with 50 students that offered one course a semester. Today, there are at least two courses per semester and satellite services offered in west Los Angeles.
“We have expanded to online course delivery, gone from having only a credential to having a credential and master’s program in librarianship and then expanded beyond that to a comprehensive library program,” she said. “The program is credentialed through the state and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.”
Farmer earned her B.A. in English from Whitman College and her master’s in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After serving a term in the Peace Corps in Tunisia, she received her doctorate from Temple University in 1981. She joined Virginia Commonwealth University and later worked for 15 years as a K-12 library media teacher and served as an adjunct faculty member at San Jose State.
Farmer feels this kind of recognition not only benefits her but also the department. “An honor like this makes the library program look more enticing,” she said. “One testimony to its effectiveness is the doubling of enrollment in the program since 1999. We’re continuing to get more and more applicants. I consider our program to be a service program. We are providing preparation for a wonderful profession where new, well-prepared people are needed.”