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Springfield libraries, librarian, authors will be honored at MLA conference Oct. 5-7

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Gayle Harper of Springfield, author of the award-winning “Roadtrip with a Raindrop,” is the first recipient of the Missouri Author Award for Non-fiction given by the Missouri Library Association. Harper’s book describes a 90-day journey along the Mississippi River, with stories and photographs by the author.

Gayle Harper on the cover of Ozarks Living with a harvest of cranberries at the start of her "Roadtrip with a Raindrop" journey.

Gayle Harper on the cover of the Ozarks Living (December/January 2014) with a harvest of cranberries at the start of her “Roadtrip with a Raindrop” journey.

Laura McHugh, a graduate of Lebanon High School, has been awarded the first Missouri Author Award for Fiction award for her debut novel, “The Weight of Blood,” published in 2015. She now lives with her family in Columbia.

Laura McHugh, author of "The Weight of Blood"

Laura McHugh, author of “The Weight of Blood”

MLA also announced that the Springfield-Greene County Library has been chosen Missouri Public Library of the Year, and that the Meritorious Achievement Award will recognize Lorraine Sandstorm, retired manager of The Library Center branch of Springfield-Greene County Library, who retired in 2013.

“During her 27 years at Springfield-Greene County Library, she was instrumental in making the branch a destination library and was called on to advise other libraries desiring to replicate her success,” says the MLA news release. “Lorraine formed a lasting partnership with universities and businesses and helped with the planning and execution of the international Missouri State University Public Affairs Conference.”

Lorrain Sandstrom, retired manager of The Library Center.

Lorrain Sandstrom, retired manager of The Library Center.

Sandstrom continues to serve on the Missouri Humanities Council as she did before her retirement and volunteers at local public radio and television stations and the Springfield-Greene County Library.

“All of these organizations have the same goals as public libraries: community growth and improvement and open access to information and education,” says Sandstrom.In the words of her nominator,

The awards will be presented Oct. 5–7, during MLA’s state conference at the Ramada Plaza Springfield Hotel and Oasis Convention Center, 2546 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield.

Harper previous received Foreword Review’s INDIEFAB “Book of the Year” Award for 2014. The Missouri Author Award was created to encourage and recognize Missouri authors and promote interest in their books. Awards are based on literary merit, regardless of whether they are about Missouri.

An honored author must be a Missourian by birth or have lived in Missouri for at least five years. The book must have been published within the past three years. A panel of 15 judges from Missouri’s library industry selected the winners from 34 nonfiction titles and 51 fiction titles published between 2013 and 2015.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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