NEW YORK -- Shugana Williams is having fun in New York City today -- Central Park, Times Square, Lucille's Grill (BB King) and "The Color Purple" on Broadway with Jennifer Hudson.
But tonight she'll receive the real love -- a 2015 I Love My Librarian Award.
Williams will appear at Carnegie Corp. headquarters on Madison Avenue to accept her $5,000 prize and attend a reception honoring her and nine others selected from more than 166,100 librarians nationwide. It's held by the American Library Association, co-sponsored by the New York Public Library and The New York Times and funded by the Carnegie Corp.
Williams works at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Perkinston campus, but her nomination includes work she did when she was at the Gulf Park campus of Southern Miss.
Wherever she works, Williams is known for making learning fun and accessible.
She makes the Perkinston campus "a better place because of her infectious personality and desire to make the library available she strives to teach everyone about the marvels of a library," said the woman who nominated her, USM associate professor of history Deanne Nuwer. Williams took that same spirit into work such as the Mississippi Humanities Council grant-funded LaBat Project, "Looking at Creole Culture along the Mississippi Gulf Coast," and a History Channel grant-funded project assessing architecture in a Biloxi neighborhood using eighth-grade students.
Because of her skills at data collection, digitization and archiving, Williams conducts workshops in the Gulf Coast region, the library association said.
She also facilitated an exhibit and lecture that exposed Coast students to a different understanding of the Muslim world. The program, attended by students, faculty and residents, opened dialogs and made connections among people of different faiths, the association said.
She's a leader in state archives and serves on the advisory committee for the Mid-Gulf Coast Collaborative for Continuing Education in Archives Management. She was archivist and librarian for both the Katrina Research Center and the Evelyn Gandy Center.
The I Love My Librarian Award is described as "an esteemed honor" that's not easy to come by.
The Carnegie Corp. of New York focuses on international peace and the advancement of education. The 58,000-member American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, and this year received more than 1,300 nominations from a pool of more than 166,100 certified librarians in the United States.
"I'm very excited, very humbled," she told the Sun Herald on Thursday afternoon from the back of a New York cab. "I have so many people to thank."
She named associates Kathryn Lewis, Lori Gordon, Brenda Rivero, Nuwer and MGCCC, where she is the program coordinator for Prime Time Literacy, among other things.
She arrived in New York on Wednesday and caught the Broadway play Wednesday night.
Today she was ready to try New York pizza.
"It's beautiful here, the weather is cold," she said. "I love New York."