2015 MSLA Distinguished Service Award: Kathleen Atkin

Before becom­ing a teacher-librarian, Kathy was a pas­sion­ate, cre­ative, French Teacher, at Hast­ings School.  She also taught Art and Music with equal tal­ent and enthu­si­asm. In 1992, she trans­ferred this pas­sion and cre­ativ­ity to her role as the first teacher-librarian at the newly built dual-track École High­bury, where together with her library assis­tant, Mette La Porte, she estab­lished a model school library pro­gram and a model for the impor­tance of a seam­less part­ner­ship between teacher– librar­i­ans and library assistants.


The library at High­bury quickly became the heart and the hub of the school. Kathy’s inspir­ing work here — col­lab­o­rat­ing with class­room teach­ers to plan and exe­cute qual­ity projects and to pro­mote school wide love of read­ing — was deservedly rec­og­nized by her High­bury col­leagues, who suc­cess­fully nom­i­nated her for the highly cov­eted Dr. D. Pen­ner Award for “excep­tional ser­vice to edu­ca­tion in St. Vital”.


In 2007, Kathy was appointed the first Coor­di­na­tor of Library Ser­vices for Louis Riel School Divi­sion. It was a wise move for LRSD, and for its school libraries — Kathy con­tin­ued and con­tin­ues her “excep­tional ser­vice to edu­ca­tion”, this time, for the larger Louis Riel School Divi­sion. She set to work on all fronts of her new posi­tion as admin­is­tra­tor of forty school libraries. Her pri­mary work is sup­port­ing teacher-librarians, library assis­tants and library tech­ni­cians, and appris­ing school prin­ci­pals about the edu­ca­tional and prospec­tive pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment roles of the teacher librar­ian in their schools.


Soon after she set­tled into her new respon­si­bil­ity, Kathy enrolled and com­pleted (2012), a Mas­ter of Edu­ca­tion –Teacher Librar­i­an­ship, from the Uni­ver­sity of Alberta, where she was rec­og­nized and val­ued for her ded­i­ca­tion and insight into the valu­able con­tri­bu­tion of school libraries to children’s edu­ca­tion at all grade lev­els. In typ­i­cal Kathy fash­ion, she eagerly and gen­er­ously shared the new learn­ing which she was rapidly acquiring.


Her new knowl­edge about the pow­er­ful resources and capa­bil­i­ties for expand­ing stu­dent learn­ing and cre­ativ­ity directly link­ing to the real world of Web2.0, led her to com­mu­ni­cat­ing school libraries’ needs and their inter­sect­ing edu­ca­tional goals to our IT depart­ment. This resulted in ongo­ing PD oppor­tu­ni­ties for library per­son­nel and the acqui­si­tion of online resources for all LRSD schools


Kathy val­ues the indi­vid­ual and col­lab­o­ra­tive role of the library assis­tants. She ini­ti­ated a PD com­mit­tee for library assis­tants and together they have planned rel­e­vant pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment for these part­ners in school libraries in the areas of library man­age­ment, tech­nol­ogy, mate­ri­als selec­tion and cur­ricu­lum ini­tia­tives as they relate to libraries. She was instru­men­tal in chang­ing our library cat­a­logue sys­tem to an online plat­form which gives us access to a union cat­a­logue – so impor­tant to func­tion­ing smoothly and equi­tably espe­cially when some school pop­u­la­tions war­rant much larger col­lec­tions than oth­ers and when bud­gets are tight. We share resources on a very reg­u­lar basis.


When LRSD intro­duced its pol­icy of Respect for Human Diver­sity: Sex­ual Ori­en­ta­tion and Gen­der Iden­tity, Kathy imme­di­ately formed com­mit­tees of ele­men­tary, mid­dle school and high school librar­i­ans to review and rec­om­mend resources to sup­port this impor­tant ini­tia­tive. As a result, all LRSD schools have col­lec­tions which reflect the chil­dren who attend them.


Zoya Osipova Presents the 2015 MSLA Distinguished Service Award to Kathleen Atkin

Zoya Osipova Presents the 2015 MSLA Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Award to Kath­leen Atkin

Divi­sional admin­is­tra­tors’ respect for Kathy’s work and her unflag­ging advo­cacy for school libraries has resulted in teacher– librar­i­ans being recruited as mem­bers of divi­sion­ally ini­ti­ated com­mit­tees such as the Lit­er­acy, Numer­acy and New Ped­a­go­gies for Deep Learn­ing where their con­tri­bu­tions are solicited and valued.

Kathy Atkin’s vision, exper­tise, advo­cacy and hard work on behalf of and together with has indeed improved the role of the school library in enhanc­ing the learn­ing and engag­ing the minds of LRSD students.