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ARHS librarian Leslie Lomasson to be honored for lifetime achievement

  • “I have the best co-workers in the world,” says Amherst Regional High School librarian Leslie Lomasson, right, of her team of Ken Ramos and Annie Figliola. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Regional High School librarian Leslie Lomasson is a 2018 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement Award which honors a member's lifetime contributions. "I have the best co-workers in the world," says Lomasson of her team of Ken Ramos and Annie Figliola. Lomasson spoke with the Gazette on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Regional High School librarian Leslie Lomasson is a 2018 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement Award which honors a member's lifetime contributions. "I have the best co-workers in the world," says Lomasson of her team of Ken Ramos and Annie Figliola. Lomasson spoke with the Gazette on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Regional High School librarian Leslie Lomasson is a 2018 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement Award which honors a member's lifetime contributions. "I have the best co-workers in the world," says Lomasson of her team of Ken Ramos and Annie Figliola. Lomasson spoke with the Gazette on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Regional High School librarian Leslie Lomasson is a 2018 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement Award which honors a member's lifetime contributions. "I have the best co-workers in the world," says Lomasson of her team of Ken Ramos and Annie Figliola. Lomasson spoke with the Gazette on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Regional High School librarian Leslie Lomasson talks about the infographic posters she made telling the library's story as a way to demonstrate for students how to do the same for their own stories. Lomasson is a 2018 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement Award which honors a member's lifetime contributions. "I have the best co-workers in the world," says Lomasson of her team of Ken Ramos and Annie Figliola. Lomasson spoke with the Gazette on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Regional High School librarian Leslie Lomasson is a 2018 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement Award which honors a member's lifetime contributions. "I have the best co-workers in the world," says Lomasson of her team of Ken Ramos and Annie Figliola. Lomasson spoke with the Gazette on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Regional High School librarian Leslie Lomasson is a 2018 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement Award which honors a member's lifetime contributions. "I have the best co-workers in the world," says Lomasson of her team of Ken Ramos and Annie Figliola. Lomasson spoke with the Gazette on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



For the Bulletin
Thursday, February 22, 2018

AMHERST — At 7:15 a.m. each weekday, the library at Amherst-Pelham Regional High School opens its doors to students waiting for the bell for their first class. By the end of the day, the room becomes packed with students doing homework and socializing with friends. 

The hard work the library does could never be possible without collaborative spirit and support between all librarians involved. Organizing programs with classes while teaching students both life and digital skills mandates a full team effort. 

So when librarian Leslie Lomasson, who will retire at the end of this year, heard the news that she was slated to receive the 2018 Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts School Library Association, she was shocked. 

“I was surprised because I’ve only been doing this particular profession for only 12 years, so it didn’t feel much like a lifetime,” Lomasson said with a laugh. “There are some really wonderful, talented and amazing people out there in this profession. So I felt really honored to be given this award by them.”

Each year, the Lifetime Achievement Awards are awarded to nominated MSLA members who have been librarians for 10 years and a member of the MSLA for at least seven. Winners of the award must have shown exemplary commitment to their students’ education and the advancement of school libraries as a whole. 

Amy Short, chairperson of MSLA’s awards committee, said that Lomasson was given the award because of her dedication and active presence in the organization.

“Leslie is an inspiration to her students and the school itself,” Short said. “She’s not just an advocate for school librarians, but also an advocate for school libraries. She’s very committed and extremely generous with her time.”

Lomasson never had a desire to be a librarian from a young age, instead the opportunity came to her in a stroke of apparent fate. When Lomasson spent long hours studying in the stacks of the Du Bois Library for her labor studies degree, she became enthralled with the detailed processes librarians went through when students needed help. 

“I had an amazing librarian help me find all kinds of information and I asked ‘How do you do this?’ It was like they were a magician,” Lomasson said. “I thought it was cool that you could go to school and learn how to do this, so I tucked it in the back of my brain.”

It wasn’t until 2004, when Simmons College in Boston started a western Massachusetts graduate library science program at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, that Lomasson started to pursue a career as a librarian. In 2006, Lomasson started work at ARHS, where she immediately joined the MSLA. 

“When you’re a librarian, you are the only person in your school who does what you do,” Lomasson said. “You’re pretty isolated. So the MSLA is a professional organization and it has all kinds of support systems in place for school librarians. There’s a real strong community and network of school librarians statewide who know each other.”

During her time as a member of the MSLA, Lomasson served as an area director for western Massachusetts where she helped organize communication and professional development opportunities for other librarians in the Pioneer Valley. Lomasson also served on the board of the MSLA from 2012-2017. 

During her time working closely with the MSLA, Lomasson was essential in being the liaison between her organization and the Massachusetts Library System to implement a statewide e-book project in school libraries. Now, schools can buy in for access to the database, opening up a plethora of free books to students who log on.

“It’s really easy for students to access the database because of geo-locational identification,” Lomasson said. “That means if a student has his or her computer in Massachusetts and they try to get into this database, they can just by virtue of the fact that their computer is physically in the state.”

To make it easier for her students to access the databases, Lomasson created a library website comprised of curated “LibGuides” that point students in the direction of resources on topics they are researching. The website itself won the MSLA Web Seal of Excellence Award in 2017. 

“By creating a virtual space that is really responsive to the times and academic needs it allows us, in terms of the print world, to have less print on the floor and to open up the space to create a more physically inviting and comfortable space for students,” Lomasson said. 

Lomasson strives to keep her resources up to date, making sure to spend time teaching students information and media literacy along with useful research skills. She also says that having a relationship with each department at the school is essential, so she can best use her resources in aiding students in classes. 

But even with all of these achievements, Lomasson insists that the progress made was a team effort. Lomasson said that without her colleagues Annie Figliola and Kenny Ramos, the ARHS library would struggle to run as smoothly as it does. 

“Collaboration is the lifeline of this profession. You can not do this job without collaboration,” Lomasson said. 

Ramos, a librarian at ARHS, said that Lomasson motivated him to get a graduate degree in library science from Mt. Holyoke after she gave him a job even though he had no background in being a librarian. 

“She inspired me to go back to school and get my second master’s,” Ramos said. “She’s a great, understanding person and she loves to work with both the staff and the students. She loves making sure that they know their way around and that the find the answer that they need.”

And although Lomasson is in the last stretch before retirement, she’s still glad to be a part of her team’s accomplishments while also looking forward to what the future holds for the library.

“I’m honored to be part of this team,” she said.