YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The director of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County has received a special honor.

Heidi Daniel was recently named “Ohio Librarian of the Year” by her peers at the Ohio Library Council. While she said she is surprised and honored for being chosen, Daniel said the award really reflects the hard work of her employees and staff, as well as the support the library system is getting from the community.

“We have increased our programming efforts quite a bit to offer a wide variety of learning opportunities throughout the community and we have really focused on trying to engage the community in telling us what they want and trying to reflect that back to them through our services and programs,” Daniel said.

Daniel is in her third year as the library’s executive director. She will receive her award this October at the Ohio Library Council’s convention in Cincinnati.

The Ohio Library Council website notes that this award “honors a librarian whose recent accomplishments have impacted the library profession and/or library service to the community.”

OLC lists this criteria for the award:

1) Exhibits distinguished service in the library community; 2) Demonstrates evidence of professional achievements; 3) Develops and implements new services; 4) Creates partnerships within the community to provide innovative services; and 5) Active involvement on the local and state level.

Daniel was nominated for the award by Library Communications Director Janet Loew.

“I am honored to nominate her for the OLC Librarian of the Year Award for her leadership, forward thinking and innovative changes that have resulted in a new culture of ‘getting to yes’ and removing barriers to make the library even more accessible to our users. Additionally, she has enhanced the community’s awareness of our library system and furthered our already-positive image,” Loew wrote in her nomination letter.

Among the innovations under Daniel’s leadership are: the pop-up library, which reaches people where they are gathering outside of a library, such as schools and community events; a series of new library cards which are tailored to the needs of different groups of people; the READ and TEEN cards which are fine-free to ensure that children and teens are not blocked from using a library; a digital card which is fine-free and fee-free because there are no physical materials checked out because the card is for use on library computers, the website, databases and more; new technology offerings; and much more.

Daniel has kept the library debt-free, even during two construction projects, the Tri-Lakes Library and the Canfield Library. She is a careful financial manager and was able to offer a reduction in the Library’s levy so that the last ballot issue lowered people’s library property taxes, according to a news release from Loew.

Daniel came to the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County as its Executive Director in July of 2012. She came to Youngstown from Houston Public Library in Texas, where she began in 2005. At Houston Public Library, she began as Assistant Branch Manager and Juvenile Librarian and quickly advanced through several positions to her job managing 16 Houston libraries as Neighborhood Library Team Leader and District Supervisor.

She holds a Masters of Library Science degree from Texas Woman’s University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Woman’s Studies from DePaul University.

During her years in graduate school at Texas Woman’s University, Daniel was a graduate assistant, and at the time of her graduation was nominated for the Beta Phi Mu honor society.

Daniel has accepted an assignment on the American Library Association’s Literacy and Outreach Services Advisory Committee from July 2015 through June 2017.