My life was blessed a few years ago (and every day since) when, at a seminar, I sat down next to a lovely, dark-haired Cherokee woman named Sandy Tharp-Thee. In the time since that first meeting, a professional and personal relationship has grown between us.
The Native American Indian community has in its midst, in the person of Sandy Tharp-Thee, an individual whose work and accomplishments will be celebrated for decades to come. It is wonderful that she has now received well deserved recognition from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, & Museums (ATALM). ATALM has awarded Sandy the 2012 Library Institutional Excellence Award!
Sandy is known by all her associates and friends as an exceptionally humble individual. Her pride is always directed toward the accomplishments of those she works tirelessly to assist, and toward the multitude of tribal and non-tribal people who have supported her work for many years. Now, however, it is Sandy’s long overdue turn to be recognized for her remarkable accomplishments.
ATALM’s determinations justifying the Library Institutional Excellence Award to Sandy: “Library Institutional Excellence, which recognizes an indigenous library that profoundly demonstrates outstanding service to its community, is awarded to the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma in Perkins, Oklahoma, its library director, Sandy Tharp-Thee, and Iowa Tribe Business Committee, Janice Rowe-Kurak,Chairman. In three short years, the library has evolved from an organization with no budget and no viable programs to a well-funded organization that is considered an “essential service.” The library now sponsors programs such as “Standing Together,” a culturally relevant collection representing all Oklahoma tribes; a dedicated webpage that engages the community in library programs; a weekly Storytime reading program in partnership with the Four Winds Child Development Center; a reading promotion program in partnership with Sonic Corporation; Summer Outreach activities that include working with Oklahoma Department of Libraries to encourage reading, gardening, art and fishing for the eagles, part of the Iowa Tribe eagle rehabilation program, a Writer’s Group, “Writers in the Wind”, that meets monthly to work on projects; Author Visit Programs with noted Native and Non-Native authors; a First Book program and Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Ready to Read and Early Literacy program, that helps children establish personal home libraries; a Starting Points program that pays for testing fees and provides training to help individuals obtain GEDs, literacy, education, career and employment opportunities. Community Outreach program targeted to the special needs of homebound elders; a One Car-One Student program where salavaged cars are recycled to pay for testing fees for GED students; an early literacy program known as “Fun in a Sack” that features kits with books, puzzles videos, and other learning tools; Working with the Iowa Tribe Cultural Preservation and Recreation to create “Living Books” recording history for future Iowa generations. Partnership with the Oklahoma Historical Society to digitize older tribal newspapers. Partnering with Iowa Tribe Bison Program, creating traveling education exhibition for outreach to schools and community. The library works closely with the JOM program assisting with tutoring of children and shares online, education, employment and career resources with five public libraries and one school library. Sandy is a member of American Indian Library Association, ALA, OLA, serves on the Oklahoma Library Tribal Committee and serves on the Oklahoma Literacy Coalition, Board of Directors representing the Iowa Tribe.”
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