Fort Worth Public Library Director Named Texas Librarian of the Year
Manya Shorr, Director of the Fort Worth Public Library, received the Librarian of the Year Award from the Texas Library Association (TLA). TLA is the largest state library association in the United States with approximately 6,000 members.
“There is no greater honor, short of winning the national award, than to be named the Texas Librarian of the Year,” Shorr said while being acknowledged at the Fort Worth City Council’s April 6 meeting.
The award is granted annually to a librarian who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and service to the library community in the past 12 to 18 months. The last Fort Worth librarian to receive the designation was former director Linda F. Allmand in 1985.
Shorr’s passionate, innovative service to the City of Fort Worth, residents and creative leadership during the pandemic made her stand out among her peers. She started 2020 strong advocating for libraries in Washington, DC and launching Fort Worth’s first, locals-only music streaming service, Amplify 817. However, the way she led the library system during the pandemic stands out throughout the state.
“I have to acknowledge that we couldn’t have done what we did this past year without the support from our council and city manager,” Shorr told the City Council. “I have colleagues across the state who desperately want to open their libraries, and their city leadership won’t let them. Thank you for supporting us and allowing us to be innovative.”
Under Shorr’s leadership, staff remained employed and found new ways to serve the community. From quickly shifting to developing online programming to an initiative to call senior citizens to connect them to social services, Shorr continued to challenge the staff to find a way to perform relevant and meaningful work. As a leader, she initiated weekly calls with all managers to keep everyone apprised of service strategies and operations. Under her leadership, Fort Worth quickly became one of the only large-library systems launching curbside service in May and then opening doors in June of 2020. As of April 12, the Fort Worth Public Library is the only large-library system in Texas with all locations open to the public.
Shorr’s nominators recognized not only her leadership in her system in Fort Worth, but also across North Texas. Early on, she led calls with other systems to strategize on how to support their communities and each other.
“While the meetings were facilitated through the Public Library Administrators of North Texas organization, it was Manya who got the ball rolling and introduced important discussions we desperately needed to have in the face of an unprecedented situation,” said Curren McLane, Director of the Azle Memorial Library, “I believe her efforts to bring area Directors together significantly helped our decision making and confidence in a time of great uncertainly and trial.”
Shorr came to Fort Worth in 2017 from the DC Public Library in Washington, DC. She guided the Fort Worth system through a strategic planning process in 2018 and followed that in 2019 with the development of a Facility Master Plan. Under her leadership, the Library also went fine-free and – prior to the pandemic – had expanded service hours at all locations with no additional cost to taxpayers.