DARIEN — Blanche Parker walked into her office on the second floor of the Darien Library in late February just like any other day — except it wasn’t.

Several of her co-workers had assembled to celebrate Parker, who had been named the Outstanding Librarian Award recipient by the Connecticut Library Association.

“We just started cheering for her and once we stopped cheering, Mallory Arents (head of adult programming) told her about the award,” Brittany Netherton, a knowledge and learning services librarian who works with Parker, said.

At first, Parker said she was shocked.

“I’m still processing this,” Parker said. “Most of the time what I do doesn’t seem like a job. I get a great satisfaction out of what I do. I wouldn’t have been here for so many years if I didn’t enjoy what I do.”

The Region 5 representative of the Connecticut Library Association, Chris Hemingway, said only one Outstanding Librarian Award is given per year. The award honors the career accomplishments and record of service of a librarian to his or her profession.

“We have an awards committee composed of CLA region representatives that receives the nominations and then votes on the nominees,” Hemingway said via email. “The award deadline this year was Jan. 31, 2018. February and March 2018 were spent reviewing nominations and voting.”

Parker, a Norwalk resident, started at the library as a part-time staffer in 1978 and began her full-time position in 1985. She took courses in a technical assistance program at Norwalk Community College and continued her education at Charter Oak State College, ultimately obtaining her library of science degree at Southern Connecticut State University.

Library staff members were unequivocal in their praise of Parker’s work for the past 40 years.

“Blanche Parker is the heart and soul of this library,” library Director Alan Gray said. “She’s someone who embodies both committed professionalism and an integral humanity in everything she does, including her work with generations of Darien families.”

Arents, who has worked with Parker for the last four years, referenced her work with the Women’s Mentoring Network and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Connecticut Chapter.

“It’s amazing the woman gets any sleep,” Arents said.

Sally Ijams, head of knowledge and learning services, said Parker is a legend in the library profession. “For the past three decades, Blanche has devoted untold hours to mentoring new librarians, guiding them with her immeasurable knowledge.”

An award presentation hosted by the CLA will take place April 24 following the association’s annual meeting at 9 a.m. at the Danbury Crowne Plaza. The Darien Library will host a public reception on April 25 to honor Parker.

“The one thing that has always been with this job is that everyone here on staff is a team, there is no ‘I’,” Parker said. “This award is for all the people I started working with, all those names would fill out so many pages. I’m still going to library school and I’m surrounded by people who share their knowledge.”

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