The most effective superheroes, like Super Man’s alter ego Clark Kent or Spiderman’s Peter Parker, often are the most unassuming.
As the director of Ferguson, Missouri’s tiny library, Scott Bonner is this year’s recipient of the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity.
When the city erupted in riots on August 9, 2014 following the shooting of an African-American teenager by a police officer, the district schools closed amid the civil unrest.
Only a few blocks from the combustible protests, Bonner, as the city’s only librarian, demonstrated commitment to families by not closing his doors. He hung a simple sign out front saying, “Stay Strong Ferguson. We are Family.”
He collaborated with teachers, churches and volunteers to offer educational programming and provide a safe place for up to 200 kids a day. The library urged children to check out “Healing Kits” that included books dealing with trauma, and included a stuffed animal gift.
After tweets about Bonner’s dedication went viral, the Ferguson Public Library received more than $175,000 in donations.
The humble librarian, who was hired the month before, insists he was just doing his job.
“We feel that he has been the ultimate example of humility, integrity, and dignity in the face of adversity,” said Dora Ho of the Los Angeles Public Library and chair of the jury that selected Bonner.
The award was established by noted author Daniel Handler of the best-selling Lemony Snicket series of children’s novels. It has a cash prize of $10,000 and includes an “odd, symbolic object from Mr. Snicket’s private stash.”
Plus, Bonner will get a certificate, to which Handler joked to The Guardian, “…which may or may not be suitable for framing.”
On June 28th, Handler, along with award-winning author Jaqueline Woodson, will honor Bonner at the American Library Association’s annual conference in San Francisco.
Bonner is taking all of the notoriety in stride. In response to winning, he wrote on his Twitter account, “Ha! Thanks. But, if I’m a superhero, then so is any local librarian, so go to the library and let them teach you to fly.”
(WATCH an ALA interview with Scott Bonner below) – Photo Credit: ALA
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