LEWISTON — Rick Speer, director of the Lewiston Public Library, has spent the past 25 years shaping the city’s library into the hub of the community, thus realizing the vision set forth by its board of directors years ago. And on Friday, his hard work and dedication paid off as he was named Outstanding Librarian of the Year by the Maine Library Association, the association’s highest honor.

“I don’t see it as an honor on myself,” Speer said of the award. “It really was a team effort. The staff and the library board worked to develop a vision and then worked toward realizing that vision.”

The award honors the career accomplishments to date of a working or retired librarian, from any type of library, who has demonstrated an outstanding record of services to both his/her library and to the library profession.

In his 25 years with the Lewiston Public Library, Speer created partnerships with schools and other educational institutions. He also reached out to new immigrants in the Lewiston area by fighting hard for significant resources, such as access to Rosetta Stone, to foster learning of the English language. He is also very involved in his community, and serves as a member of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Bates College Dance Festival and Androscoggin Dances and is a member of Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary.

Speer also served on the Executive Board of the Central Maine Library District. In 2008 he was awarded the ProQuest/SIRS Intellectual Freedom Award for his strong defense of intellectual freedom when a patron removed the library’s copy of “It’s Perfectly Normal,” a book the patron found objectionable, and refused to return it to the library.

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