Ziolko recognized with Frances P. Neal Award at Arkansas Library Association

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Jay Ziolko

Jay Ziolko, former executive director of the Mississippi County Library System, recently received the Frances P. Neal Award at the annual meeting of the Arkansas Library Association.

The Frances P. Neal Award was first presented in 1984 in honor of Frances Potter Neal, who served as librarian and executive secretary of the Arkansas Library Commission from 1952-1977, as Arkansas Chapter councilor to the American Library Association from 1952-1971, and who was Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1958. This award is given to recognize a career of notable service in librarianship with the the state of Arkansas.

"It really was an honor to receive this award," Ziolko said. "It was a real thrill. A few of my family members were able to be there, which was wonderful. I enjoyed seeing the people I have gotten to work with over the past 40 years."

Ziolko came from western New York to become director of the Mississippi County Library System on Jan. 1, 1977. During his 37 years, he guided the county library system into the 21st century. In his first years as director Mr. Ziolko implemented the Mississippi County Library System's summer reading program, which continues to go strong. The summer reading program provides activities, shows, story hours and more to thousands of children throughout the county. Ziolko wanted to make sure that children were being exposed to books during their summer vacation from school.

Under his leadership, all six Mississippi County Library System branches started and continue to offer free internet service including WiFi. The six county library branches continue to be the primary access for internet to the citizens of this county. He believed the county library system should provide services to patrons they couldn't get anywhere else such as faxing, printing, laminating, notary public, and more.

"Some of the highlights for me was that our library system was a combined system with the college and the community," Ziolko said. "Through that collaboration the library system went from not having a certified librarian when I came here to having two. Then getting the half mill raised to a whole mill that helped a lot. Also when voters passed the eighth of a cent sales tax it made a considerable difference in our funding. So when someone buys $8.00 of food, 1 cent goes to the libraries. That way they stay open for everyone to use and everyone contributes."

In recent years the Mississippi County Library System implemented an electronic card catalog, began offering Ebooks and is using social media such as Facebook to inform patrons of library events. Ziolko believed in changing with the times, allowing the library system to continue to be the information hub for the county. He leaves a legacy of customer service as it was his goal to make the latest books available to every person in Mississippi County. Ziolko wanted every patron that entered a library in Mississippi County to leave with a book or be provided with a needed service.

Professionally, Ziolko was for many years the founding librarian for what is now Arkansas Northeastern College. In that role, he oversaw the construction of the college library facility and consulted on many other academic library construction projects throughout Arkansas. He was president of both the Blytheville Lions and Rotary clubs and served as president of the Arkansas Library Association in 1983.

"I feel like what we accomplished was because of the work of the library staff,"

Ziolko said. "We have a progressive college and community that have supported

the library system. We had and still have an outstanding Library Board that has

always been supportive. I also could not have done any of it without the support

of my family."

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