Balcius was selected as the contest winner based on her essay about someone who inspired her. Rather than identify a lone individual, Balcius wrote about the many librarians she encountered during her military family's moves from California to Virginia to Massachusetts.
"I ask you to consider the collective influence of every librarian I crossed paths with over the course of my life … the librarians with their subtle encouragement as I checked out mountains of books in Carlsbad, the librarian who became one of my first friends in Chesapeake, and the librarians who helped me feel at home in a place I knew I wouldn't stay long," Balcius wrote in her winning essay.
Now in her first year at Clark University in Worcester, Balcius is studying education with plans to pursue an advanced degree in library science. Her goal is to one day become a librarian as inspiring as the ones who influenced her along her own journey.
"In 2022, we received over 30 applications to review and essays to read," said Lisa Rein, president of FoFL's board. "The prompt we chose this past year reflects the continuing challenges from a pandemic and the heroes who help us navigate difficult situations. Gwenne's essay was so heartfelt and aligned well with her affection for libraries and the librarians who work there."
The Friends of Franklin Library, an independent, non-profit organization committed to supporting the Franklin Public Library, established its scholarship program in 2014. The annual scholarship is part of several efforts undertaken to honor the late Wilma Winters, a longtime Franklin resident and library supporter. Winters, who had a long career in higher education, worked for many years as a librarian, including at Boston University Medical School and Harvard's School of Public Health. She spent her retirement years volunteering at the Franklin Public Library.
The scholarship program has assisted college-bound Franklin students in each of the past eight years. It will be awarded again this year to a member of the Class of 2023. Essay entries will be coordinated through the school's guidance department.
|Members of the Friends of Franklin Library's board recently presented Gwenne Blacius, left, with a check for winning the Friends' annual essay contest|