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Newport News librarian receives award

Jordan Crawford | 8/7/2013, 3:34 p.m.
Demetria Tucker is the recipient of the 2013 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

“It really caught me by surprise because I told my staff not to submit my name. I feel that it takes a team; I accepted the award on behalf of my staff because we all deserved it.”

Demetria Tucker, senior family and youth services librarian for the Pearl Bailey Library, is the recipient of the 2013 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The award is sponsored by the American Library Association.

Tucker was honored for her achievements at the Newport News City Council meeting on July 9, where Newport News Mayor McKinley Price presented her with the award and a proclamation.

At Pearl Bailey Library, Tucker coordinates a youth leadership program, a teen urban literature club and many other programs that support the youth of the southeast community of Newport News.

Tucker’s efforts with her youth are essentially to promote literature and teach them how to work together. The many programs she implements with the library consist of The Boss of Cakes, a male mentoring program with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Teen Advice, How to Navigate the Library, and a math and science tutoring program with pharmacy students from Hampton University.

The library also prepares college care bags to give to the youth in their programs who will be entering college.

Tucker previously served as youth services coordinator within the Roanoke (Va.) Public Library System and library media specialist at the Forest Park Elementary School, where she was selected 2007 Teacher of the Year. She holds a master’s degree in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University-Greensboro, N.C.

“I have always sought to provide an environment that allows young people the opportunity to actively be engaged, make choices and achieve a sense of self-worth and pride,” Tucker said. “Our programs provide lasting outcomes that empower and provide young people the opportunity to become positive leaders and major stakeholders in their communities and throughout their adult lives.”

The Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement is named in memory of children’s author Virginia Hamilton.

In odd years, the annual award is presented to a practitioner for substantial contributions through active engagement with youth using award-winning African American literature for children and young adults, via implementation of reading and reading-related activities and programs. The recipient may be a librarian, educator, or youth literature advocate whose vocation, work, volunteer service or ongoing promotion of books with or on behalf of youth is significant and sustained.

In even years, the award is presented to an African American author, illustrator, or a combination of the two who has made a significant and lasting literary contribution, for a body of his or her published books for children and young adults.

Virginia Hamilton was an award-winning author of children’s books. She wrote more than 35 books throughout her career. During her lifetime, Hamilton received numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Book Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Tucker was presented with the Coretta Scott-King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement medal in Chicago at the 2013 American Library Association Annual Conference.

Ask her what her most favorite program is being offered at the Pearl Bailey Library and Tucker will say The Boss of Cakes (youth design fake cakes out of recycled objects and material), and Teen Advice because she enjoys seeing the teens interacting and conducting business.

“Librarians are culture-keepers,” said Tucker, making a difference in her community one youth at a time.