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Paul Clark’

Library Guy: Location, location, location!

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Paul Clark, aka “The Library Guy,” was a familiar presence in the Capitol last year as he stood silently in busy hallways holding a sign urging lawmakers to fully fund the $21.2 million in state aid to libraries to keep federal funds flowing.

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, credited Clark with the last-minute addition of the complete funding and advised other advocates to take a tip from the soft-spoken librarian. Clark’s efforts also won him a national “I Love My Librarian” award in December, and he was recently named Florida’s “Librarian of the Year.”

Clark was back in town on Wednesday, accompanied by his sons Jacob, 11, and Joseph, 10, who handed out bookmarks to lobbyists and lawmakers trekking along the bridge connecting the Capitol with the Knott Building, prime real estate according to the Clay County systems librarian.

Clark said he positioned himself at the top of the long hallway so that he’d be in plain sight as budget conferees made the long walk down the bridge as they headed into meetings during the harried final days of the 2010 session. And he stood at the opposite end when the meetings were over.

“You have to be noticed. You’ve got to be approachable, but you have to know your facts,” Clark said. That shows lawmakers “you’re not a total nut case.”

With a $3.8 billion budget deficit, there’s no money in the Senate spending plan for libraries right now, and Clark won’t be around to plead with lawmakers to put it in. He used up all his vacation time last year and has to (apologies to Gov. Rick Scott) get back to work.

Wednesday morning, Clark met briefly with Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, a visit he’s been trying to nail down for months, he said.

Carroll expressed a great deal of interest in his fact sheet, Clark said, giving him hope that libraries may not be forgotten this year, even in his absence.

Capitol “Library Guy” wins national “I Love My Librarian” award

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Paul Clark, Wilderness Coast Public Libraries systems librarian

Remember Paul Clark? No? Maybe “The Library Guy” rings a bell?

The Clay County librarian became a fixture in the Capitol hallways as lawmakers prepared to slash millions of dollars from the state’s aid to libraries budget during the legislative session that ended in May. Lawmakers credited “The Library Guy’s” dogged and respectful lobbying (he used his vacation days to stand silently holding a sign pleading with lawmakers not to cut the library aid) when they put back $9.5 million they had originally cut from the library funding. The cut would have resulted in an even bigger loss of federal matching funds.

Clark’s persistence paid off big time for libraries around the state, and now for the Clay County librarian himself.

He’s one of the winners of the “I Love My Librarian” award administered by the American Library Association and sponsored by The Carnegie Corporation of New York and The New York Times.

The award “encourages library users to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarians,” according to its website.

Clark, whose prize includes $5,000, was one of 10 winners selected from 2,000 submissions.

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