CHICAGO — Nancy Bolt has been named the 2016 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) International Relations Committee’s John Ames Humphry/OCLC/Forest Press Award, given to a librarian or person who has made significant contributions to international librarianship. The award consists of a prize of $1,000 and a certificate to be presented at the International Librarians Reception on Monday, June 27, at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. OCLC/Forest Press donated the cash award.
The ALA IRC Humphry Award Subcommittee recognized Bolt’s “undaunted passion” in making its selection, noting that her “work with local, national and international audiences has been significant and she has made a great contribution to the field of librarianship and international cooperation.” Currently president of the library consulting firm Nancy Bolt & Associates, her professional career has included stints with the Colorado State Library, the Maryland Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In 1996, Bolt, then assistant commissioner of education for libraries for the Colorado State Library, hosted Iska Mahailova, from the Bulgarian National Library, as part of an ALA Fellows Program. The visit launched a partnership between two countries that has continued to the present. After coordinating a series of library visits and lecture tours in Bulgaria, Bolt founded the Bulgaria/Colorado Library Partnership Project, which at its height paired 29 libraries in Colorado, Iowa and Maryland with counterparts in Bulgaria. Several of these partnerships remain active, including those between the Aurora Public Library (CO) and a library in Silestra, Bulgaria, and between the Eagle (CO) Library District and a library in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria. Funding from the project gave librarians from Bulgaria the opportunity to visit the U.S. and attend a major library conference.
This next stage of this partnership involved the creation of the American/Bulgarian Library Exchange (ABLE), which aimed, in part, to help Bulgarian libraries establish community information centers and encourage Bulgarian government and community leaders to increase their support of libraries. A major outcome of the project was a $300,000 U.S. Department of State grant to facilitate travel by U.S. and Bulgarian librarians and train librarians in Bulgaria.
In 2012, Bolt and a group of fellow members of the Colorado Association of Libraries began working to establish the International Library Cultural Exchange Interest Group within the CAL. Since that time, the interest group has established a grant and an award, received official Interest Group status from the CAL board, presented at the annual conferences of CAL and ALA, produced a brochure and newsletter, and hosted three international receptions at the annual CAL conference. The interest group has also worked to establish Sister City partnerships and launch the first CAL-sponsored international library tour.
As adjunct professor at Emporia State University (Kansas) School of Library and Information Management, Bolt conducted the 2015 course Current Issues in Global Information Infrastructure: Bulgarian Libraries, Archives, and Special Collections, which included ten-day trip to Bulgaria featuring visits to libraries and cultural sites.
Bolt has also contributed to the International Resources and Exchange (IREX ) Project, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to establish evaluative criteria for library computer centers in Romania and Ukraine. She is co-author of “Community Based Librarianship; A Manual and Planning Tools,” published in both English and Bulgarian. Her professional service includes serving and chairing the International Relations Committee and the International Relations Round Table, and chairing several IFLA committees, including the Strategic Planning Committee, Government Libraries Section and the IFLA Division 2 Coordinating Board.