Michele Vass receives Outstanding Friend Conference Grant sponsored by ThriftBooks

The determined president of the Rocklin Friends of the Library (Calif.) will receive full registration to the ALA Annual Conference, plus a $1,000 stipend

Michele Vass joined the Rocklin Friends of the Library in 2016 after the closure of two county libraries and a reduction of service hours at several other branches. While Michele was a Placer County Library patron, she had no idea about the precarious position of the library system’s funding. At the conclusion of her first Friends’ meeting, she was asked to lead the organization and has now served on the Board of Directors for the past 8 years, 4 of them as president.

“Eight years ago, I never saw myself as the voice of the Rocklin Library and Placer County Library system, but my community needed me and the skill set that I had to help in a time of uncertainty. I’m encouraged by our recent successes, and I look forward to learning from leaders in the library world at the ALA Conference this year. What I learn in San Diego will be taken back to benefit all branches of the Placer County Library system.” 

Michele drew on her background of service in state and local government and got to work highlighting the need for the return of service hours at the Rocklin Library. She reached out to the Rocklin Police Department to form a new partnership and the program, “Story Time at the Station” was born. Story times feature Rocklin Police Officers reading books selected by Rocklin librarians to kids at the police station, along with a quick safety demonstration and station tour. The large attendance at the story times showed that parents in the community were looking for fun, free, and educational opportunities for their kids when our library was closed. It has proven so successful these last 8 years that it expanded this Spring to include Rocklin Fire stations as well.

In 2023 under Michele’s leadership, all the Placer County Friends of the Library groups united their messaging and lobbied their County Supervisors. They called on the public to send in letters of support to return the service hours they had lost years prior. Seven years of laying the groundwork and staying the course finally paid off when Monday hours were restored to the Auburn and Rocklin branches of the Placer County Library system by unanimous vote of the County Supervisors. Michele was also successful in helping to get an additional $100,000 allocated to collection development for the entire library system.

“Michele is a leader among leaders,” said Placer County Library Director Mary George. “She clearly sees the whole picture and advocates for the entire library system, while also ensuring that her community library in Rocklin is strong. She builds consensus by honoring the decisions made by past Friends of the Library presidents and Library Directors while also looking toward a changing future. As Placer County continues to grow, Michele seeks to merge Friends groups in supervisorial districts to engage more advocates, ensuring libraries are at the forefront of mind as county services are developed, constructed, and sustained.”

Michele Vass graduated Magna Cum Laude from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor’s degree in Government. She has served on the staff of a member of the California Board of Equalization, and as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Rocklin where she lives. Michele is a California Real Estate Broker and has served as a local trade association President and state level delegate.

The United for Libraries Outstanding Friend Conference Grant sponsored by ThriftBooks enables one member of a Friends of the Library group at a public library to attend the ALA Annual Conference each year. The winner receives a grant of $1000, plus full ALA Annual Conference registration. For more information, visit our Awards page.

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