Brown honored with service award
Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, received the Elinor Swaim Distinguished Service Award for her efforts in the North Carolina General Assembly on behalf of the state’s public library system.
According to the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association, Brown’s efforts ensured that state aid to public libraries was not cut by 4.8 percent, as was recommended by Gov. Pat McCrory's budget.
The award was presented Dec. 5.
"I was really shocked. It made me cry," Brown said. "I love my libraries. I still support them monetarily. When we were looking at the budget, I said to them, there are not many hills on which I'm willing to die, but I'll die on the hill for the libraries."
Brown's affinity for the state's public libraries began as a small child, when she says she spent hours of her childhood perusing books. The words she read as a child left a remarkable impact on the woman who would eventually share her education on the floor of the state capital.
"When I was a little girl, I would go to the library and get stacks of books, and I've never forgotten their importance," Brown said. "I've always thought libraries are one of the best ways our tax dollars are spent. Nobody in the house fought it. There is just a lot of support for the libraries."
Ruth Ann Copley, Davidson County director of libraries and president of the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association, is ecstatic to have an advocate in the state government.
“This year it was wonderful to see her feistiness when we told of the proposed 4.8 percent cut in the governor’s budget,” Copley said. “She immediately asked for ammunition to use in making our case. We provided her with the graphs, charts, and information in her Legislative Day packet. She assured us she would make good use of them.
“Shortly after we returned from Legislative Day, we found her as good as her word, because Rayne had been making our case in the halls of government. State librarian Cal Shephard called to ask about her and told me that she was having an impact.”
The Elinor Swaim Distinguished Service Award is an annual honor presented to an individual who is not employed by a public library, but who has supported public libraries in North Carolina in a significant manner. Nominations are received by the awards committee and the honoree receives the award at the annual meeting and banquet.
During Brown’s Dec. 5 acceptance speech, she commented that state support for public libraries was an issue worth fighting for and told her colleagues that she would willingly take a stand.
"I'm just the one who made the statement,” Brown said. “People all across the state treasure their libraries, and that is reflected in the state legislature. I just appreciate everybody in the Senate and the House. We did the best we could with a limited budget."
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.