Norwich - Maureen Sullivan fell in love with libraries as a little girl exploring the shelves at the cramped quarters of the original Otis Library, across Union Square from City Hall.
Later, the Norwich Free Academy library captured her attention and fed her appetite for learning. When she graduated from NFA in 1967, Sullivan decided to devote her career to libraries, their challenges and their future in technologically changing times.
Sullivan, daughter of Marion and John Sullivan, won election as the new president of the American Library Association in April, one year after she had been named academic/research librarian of the year.
On June 22, she will return to the Rose City to accept the Norwich Native Daughter Award from Norwich Rotary and the Norwich Women's City Club. The award luncheon will be held at noon at the Holiday Inn.
"For me it's a real honor to be recognized this way," Sullivan said Wednesday. "I have not lived in Norwich since 1967, when I went off to college, but I have strong family ties and am back in that community very often."
Sullivan is the oldest of seven children. Her siblings are: Carole McCarthy of Mystic, Joanne LeBeau of East Hartford, twins John Sullivan of Albany, N.Y., and Jean Depot in Norwich, and brothers Robert, Thomas and James, all of Norwich.
Sullivan recalled attending the first Native Son presentation in 1967 before leaving for college. Thomas Melady, former president of Sacred Heart University and ambassador to the Vatican, received the award that year. Sullivan will be the 44th recipient.
She also has retained her love of Otis Library, especially its recent $10 million expansion project. When Sullivan's mother died in 2008, the family established the Marion Williamson Sullivan Fund to help raise money for library materials. There is now has $6,300 in the fund, library Executive Director Robert Farwell said. The library will dedicate the large bookcase in the atrium to Marion Sullivan at 2:30 p.m. June 22, after the award luncheon.
Maureen Sullivan earned her bachelor's degree in 1974 and master's in library science in 1976 at the University of Maryland. She worked for 12 years in library human resources at the University of Maryland and at Yale University, and developed an expertise in library organization, design, staff development and leadership.
She owns Maureen Sullivan Associates in Annapolis, Md., a consulting firm that provides planning, leadership development, design, organizational change and staff development services to libraries throughout the country.
In 2010, she was named Academic/Research Librarian of the Year by the Association of College-Research Liberians, and in April was elected as American Library Association president. She will serve for one year as president-elect and will take over in June 2012. She is past president of the Association of College and Research Librarians and is a graduate school professor at Simmons College in Massachusetts.
Sullivan said she is grateful that she had a good community library and said the NFA library is "near and dear to my heart."
"We need education at the local level and a national strategy for support of the local libraries to educate funders and community leaders on the importance of libraries," Sullivan said. "I was privileged to grow up in Norwich, where that work is being done."