The Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award

The New York State Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, Friends of the New York State Library

2017: Award | Previous Recipients || 2018: Announcement | Application

image of Joseph F. Shubert; click on the image to see a larger versionThe Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award is given annually to recognize the achievements of small, medium and large libraries and library consortia in New York State. Named after the late Joseph F. Shubert, former State Librarian, the Award honors libraries or library consortia that have taken significant steps within the past two years to improve the quality of library service to users.

The New York State Regents Advisory Council is pleased to sponsor the Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award.  The award includes a gift of $1,000 supplied by the Friends of the New York State Library. Other notable projects may also be recognized and honored for their achievements.

2017 Award

The New York State Regents Advisory Council on Libraries is pleased to announce that the 2017 Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award has been awarded to the Rochester Public Libraryexternal link opens in a new window for its fines elimination pilot program.

Rochester's fines elimination pilot program demonstrates excellence in library service to the community as well as excellence in project development and execution. The library, in its efforts to address the endemic problem of poverty in its community, identified and documented usage trends and existing financial barriers to using the library. With clear goals to increase access and circulation of library materials among families living in poverty, the RPL gained approval from its Trustees and incorporated anticipated adjustments into the City's annual budget before proceeding with its bold program. The RPL pilot ran from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. During this period, children's and young adult materials owned by the RPL did not accrue daily overdue fines. The pilot, which saw a 10% increase in circulation of materials over the previous year, was well received by the community and was praised by the Mayor of Rochester, who announced that the fines elimination on materials for children and teens would be made permanent. Most importantly, the program had positive benefits on children and families and erased a disincentive to using the library for residents living in poverty.

2017 award presentation at NYLA[Left: RAC Chair Dr. Colleen Sadowski, RPL Director Patty Uttaro and Deborah Emerson, chair of NYLA Awards Committee, at the 2017 NYLA COnference.]

The selection committee was impressed by the clarity of purpose behind the program and the program's relationship to a sense of urgency among leaders in the community to address poverty. With the rigor of assessment, both leading up to and during the pilot, the library demonstrated a real need and showed that reducing financial barriers made a substantial difference to users.

The award was be officially presented in November at the New York Library Association Conference in Saratoga Springs. As the 2017 Shubert Award winner, the Rochester Public Library received $1,000, graciously donated by the Friends of the New York State Library, and a plaque.

Members of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries 2017 Shubert Award Committee were Ann Thornton, Claudia Depkin and Michael Stoller. The Committee was uniformly enthusiastic in its decision to honor the Rochester Public Library’s submission as an excellent example of the “spirit of the Shubert award.”

Previous Award Recipients

[Click on the links below to view their applications for the Award and/or links to more information about the project.]



  • Red Hook Public Libraryexternal link for their recognition of its innovative programs and increase in attendance and circulation.
    • 2015 Awards Press Release .PDF PDF file [70k]
    • See their application: .PDF PDF file [187k]


no award given




  • Winner: The New York Public Library (NYPL) for their project entitled Homework NYCexternal link
    • See their application: .PDF PDF file [634k]
  • Runner-up: Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (BOCES) School Library System, for their regional school library system union catalog FiveSystems.orgexternal link





Story Quilt, a "one-of-a-kind literary, social history project of the Galway Public Library...."

Story quilt cover; Galway Public Library; click to enlarge the image.Left: cover of Story Quilt: Poems of a Place by the People Who Live Here; A project of the Galway Public Library. See Galway's application for more information and pictures.


  • Southeastern New York Library Resources Council: "The Hudson River Valley Heritage (HRVH) Service," providing online access to historical materials from New York State's Hudson River Valley to researchers, students and the general public.
  • Albany Public Library: Bookmobile service, coordinated by the Library's Outreach Department, providing day-to-day programs and services so that "[e]very City of Albany resident shall have regular and equitable access to the information, educational, and recreational resources and programs of the Albany Public Library."


  • Southern Adirondack Library System: "Statewide Performer Database," a unique project that supports statewide youth library service by compiling programming and performer information from all across New York.
  • Mid-York Library System: The "Regional Read" project promoted literacy and community involvement by encouraging people to read Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and to participate in programs related to the book.


  • Rochester Regional Library Council: "CLIC-on-Health" project, an outstanding approach to providing the people of the greater Rochester area with high-quality healthcare information and resources.
  • Cortland Junior/Senior High School Library: "Parent-Child Book Club" project, an exceptional approach to promoting literacy by bringing together eighth graders and their parents for literary discussions and author presentations.


  • Albany Public Library: "First Stop/The Next Step" project, a unique approach to addressing the needs of those in the community who are in the process of making the transition from incarceration to employment.


  • Crandall Public Library, Glen Falls: Unique approach to addressing specific consumer health needs of patrons.
  • Four County Library System, Vestal: Exemplary approach to providing Internet resources to a rural community via a Cybermobile project.


  • Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
  • Lincoln High School Media Center


  • Kendall Jr. High School Library
  • Mohawk Valley Library System


  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • Queens Borough Public Library
  • North Country Reference and Research Resources Council


  • Port Washington Public Library
  • Science, Industry & Business Library
  • Potsdam Public Library
  • Reading Room Association of Gouverneur
  • Finger Lakes Library System & Project Partners
  • University Libraries, SUNY at Buffalo University
  • Southern Westchester BOCES School Library System
  • Suffolk Cooperative Library System


  • New York Academy of Medicine Library
  • The New York Public Library – The Branch Libraries
  • Lawville Free Library
  • Mohawk Valley Library Association
  • Nassau School Library System
  • Fairport Library Council


  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • Queens Borough Public Library
  • Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
  • Mid-York Library System
  • Honorable Mention:
    • Voorheesville Public Library
    • Woodward Memorial Library
Last Updated: May 25, 2018 -- asm