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walter j. Turanko award

school librarian of the year

The School Library Media Specialist of the Year Award was first presented in 1979 by MASL’s antecedent organization, the Maine Educational Media Association.  Walter Taranko, the Coordinator of School Library Services at the Department of Education/Maine State Library, had an integral role in guiding and shaping this annual celebration of school library excellence. Walt was a friend of school librarians; mentoring new school librarians, helping to clarify their roles in schools, and streamlining the certification process. He was a strong advocate for having certified school librarians in all schools. Walter was the driving force in bringing the Clarion University and the University of South Carolina library programs to the state. Many of the librarians in Maine are beneficiaries of these programs.

In 2000, just a year before his untimely death from cancer, the Maine Association of School Libraries renamed this award in Walt’s honor. MASL presented the first Walter J. Taranko Library Media Specialist of the Year Award to Dr. Tamara Blesh at the 2000 Maine Libraries Conference held in Augusta, Maine.  We are thankful for Walter’s presence that day, and each time we celebrate the meaningful contributions of School Librarians in Maine.

The Walter J. Taranko School Librarian Award is intended to honor 071 certified librarians who have made a significant contribution to the school librarian profession on the local and/or state levels. The WJT Award includes an engraved plaque for the recipient and a cash donation given in the name of the recipient to the recipient's school library media program. The WJT is awarded annually at both the recipient's school/district and at a MASL conference or event. 

Deadline for Nominations

February 15th


  1. Practicing in the field of librarianship for at least three years
  2. Working as a library media specialist in any capacity in Maine 
  3. Member of MASL for the past three years or more

Procedure for Nomination

Nomination may come from:

  • MASL members
  • Teachers and administrators
  • Maine Department of Education or Maine State Library staff

Email completed nomination form and documentation to: *Please do not mail*

All applications received will be acknowledged by an email confirmation.

Once the nominations deadline has passed, all nominations will be reviewed by the MASL past president. Their unnamed recommendation will be sent to the MASL Board for approval.  After the Board has approved the recommendation, the nominator of the winning candidate will be contacted to arrange presentation of the Award at an appropriate school/district event (this may include surprising the winner if appropriate).  The MASL Board will also honor the winner at an appropriate MASL event after the initial presentation in his or her school district.

Although the award is presented annually and the major emphasis is for contributions made during the previous school year, earlier and continuing activities should be included in the recommendations and will be considered in the adjudicating process.

MASL also reserves the right to forgo presenting the WJT Award in years when there are no candidates or when the MASL Board determines that no candidate submission meets the requirements of the WJT Award.




Maine Association of School Libraries

c/o Maine State Library

64 State Street

Augusta, ME


"MASL" is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. 

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