James Fish: SLIS Distinguished Alumnus

James Fish receiving award

James Fish, MLS '71, is the recipient of the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award. Fish, Director of the Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL), was honored by SLIS alumni at the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference in New Orleans in June.

"Jim has truly distinguished himself throughout his career and represents how SLIS graduates are successfully providing leadership and dramatically influencing the future of all aspects of our profession, including public libraries," said SLIS Alumni Board President Keith Kuhn, MLS '76.

"Because of his extensive experience as a public library director and his sound business and management experience, Jim often serves in a leadership position on committees and initiatives that have national, statewide, and local impact," wrote Irene M. Padilla, assistant state superintendent, Division of Library Development and Services for Maryland, in her nomination letter. "His leadership and guidance promote the role of libraries as vital community assets."

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually to "an alumnus who is making, or has made, an outstanding contribution to the Library Science/Information Science profession."

"I am deeply honored to receive this prestigious award," said Fish. "I would like to thank the Alumni Association for this recognition and to thank SLIS for providing me with such a strong foundation and good start in a profession that I love."

Fish was the driving force behind several innovative programs at the BCPL, including the use of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) for enhanced circulation services, the creation of the 24/7 virtual reference Ask Us Now! for Maryland libraries, the establishment of the reading readiness program Baby Boosters, and the development of the BCPL's Summer Reading Club into a statewide program. BCPL consistently ranks high in the Hennen's American Public Library Rankings.

Recently, Fish received the 2006 SirsiDynix – ALA-APA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Promoting Salaries and Status for Library Workers. The ALA-APA announcement noted his "relentless education of the Board of Library Trustees and County Executives," which resulted in a new pay program at BCPL. All BCPL staff received a 7.34% pay adjustment and a 5% increase in merit steps. In addition, the base pay for all librarians was increased by 13.4%.

Prior to Baltimore County Public Library, Fish served as the City Librarian of the San Jose, California Public Library system from 1990 to 1996. He also worked as library director at several public libraries in Massachusetts, including Levi Heywood Memorial Library in Gardner, Leominster Public Library, the Robbins Library in Arlington, and Springfield City Library. From 1980 to 1982, he served as State Librarian for the Massachusetts State Library.

Fish received a BA degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1968 and MBA from Anna Maria College in 1980.

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Posted November 01, 2006