2018 Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award

Source: MidlandsBiz

One Columbia for Arts and History is proud to announce Melanie Huggins, the executive director of Richland Library, as the recipient of the 2018 Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award.

December 3, 2018

One Columbia for Arts and History is proud to announce Melanie Huggins, the executive director of Richland Library, as the recipient of the 2018 Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award. The award will be presented December 12, 2018 at 6pm at the Nickelodeon Theatre.

The Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award is an annual recognition of a Columbian who reflects many of the values and qualities of those generously given by One Columbia’s former leader in support of the growth and vitality of his City of Columbia. Morrison, who passed away in 2013, co-chaired the One Columbia Arts and History Board of Directors for three years.

Melanie Huggins has been the executive director of Richland Library in Columbia since 2009. In her role, she manages a nearly $26 million budget, nearly 400 employees and 12, soon-to-be 13 locations. Within the past nine years, she has revolutionized library services to better meet the needs of the community and for this reason, the Richland Library was awarded the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Huggins was named a 2018 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands for her lasting impact in the community. Her work is influenced by her belief that libraries are uniquely positioned to make communities more livable, resilient and inclusive. She is also a recognized leader in the library profession, having held trustee positions with both the Urban Libraries Council and the Public Library Association. In 2012, the South Carolina Library Association named her South Carolina Outstanding Librarian. She is a Liberty Fellow, member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network; a member of the Spring 2018 class of the Riley Diversity Leaders Institute; Vice President of the TogetherSC Board; Vice President of the University of South Carolina’s University Associates Board; and a City Center Partnership Board Member.

During her tenure as executive director, Huggins has many accomplishments, including the introduction of a new focus for strategic planning that solicited input from the entire library staff; the coordination of the first Amnesty Week (exoneration of all fines) to remove barriers to library services; a rebranding of the library system, based on customer feedback; garnering over $6 million in grant funding; and designing evidence-based programs proven to increase school readiness, foster family engagement and reduce academic loss commonly occurring in the summer for students reading below grade level.

“What an honor to be recognized for work I feel so passionately about,” exclaims Huggins. “I love being part of the transformation of not only Richland Library – but my hometown. We have many talented and smart people here, especially in our cultural communities, doing extraordinary work to make our city more inclusive and vibrant. I’m grateful for their support and collaboration.”

“We are pleased to recognize Melanie Huggins with this year’s Morrison Visionary Award,” says Jeremy Hodges, President of the One Columbia for Arts and History Board of Directors. “Under her leadership, Richland Library has transformed not only the Library’s physical infrastructure but also its philosophy and approach to serving each and every resident of our City and County. The Library is an important cultural institution and we are grateful for Melanie’s hard work and dedication to making sure the Library retains that status in our community for many years to come.”

The recipient of the Steve Morrison Visionary Award honors the best combination of vision and leadership, applied to arts and history and the entire cultural foundation of the City, and the value they bring to Columbia.

“Melanie’s exemplary leadership at Richland Library speaks to her ability to not only relate well to our diverse body of residents in Columbia but to also view things with a forward-thinking, open-minded perspective,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “She leads an amazing team at our national award-winning library system in addition to being a community advocate, philanthropist and friend to so many. I am grateful for to have her as one of our own and congratulate her on this recognition.”

“Melanie is most deserving of this honor because she has revolutionized the concept of the modern library as a place that builds communities, fosters conversations and stimulates thinking,” says Richland Library Board of Trustees Chair Reverend Johnny Ray Nobles. “She is an innovative leader with a contagious spirit who inspires others to reach beyond their perceived abilities and accomplish the impossible. Melanie has made a tangible difference in Richland County, and her presence has made the Midlands a better place through her contributions to its citizens.”