CHICAGO — Elizabeth (Liz) McChesney is the 2021 recipient of the Association for Library Service to Children’s (ALSC) Distinguished Service Award. The prestigious award honors an individual who has made significant contributions to library service to children and to ALSC.
McChesney is the Outreach and Partnership consultant for the Laundry Literacy Coalition and the previous director of Children’s Services and Family Engagement at Chicago Public Libraries, where she was known for pioneering inclusive practices for children and families on the autism spectrum. She serves as adviser to the Urban Libraries Council and as the library adviser to the National Summer Learning Association.
She has worked with ALSC and the National Summer Learning Association to promote libraries during National Summer Learning Day. McChesney was a member of the first ALSC Task Force on implementing Summer and Out of School Time Learning and since 2018 leads ALSC’s Task Force on Summer/Out of School Time Learning. In this role she is currently leading ALSC’s playbook development for Summer Learning which will be disseminated nationally in early 2021.
The Laundry Literacy Coalition is an alliance between the Coin Laundry Association’s LaundryCares Foundation and the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail initiative that promotes early literacy by delivering tools and resources directly into local self-service Laundromats in underserved communities.
“Liz is a leader, an inspiration and a mentor to hundreds of children’s librarians and others within the sphere where libraries and children intersect,” says nominator Laura Jenkins. “But the truly outstanding quality that makes Liz stand out from other inspiring leaders is that, while she may be in front, she is never alone. Liz has mastered working cooperatively with others—individuals and institutions—so that not only children but also partners reap the benefit of her creativity and dedication.”