Allen Park school librarian awarded top state honor

MEA member Melissa Lambert, a librarian at Allen Park High School, with MEA Vice President Brett Smith (center) and Allen Park Education President Joel Burkey.
MEA member Melissa Lambert, a librarian at Allen Park High School, with MEA Vice President Brett Smith (center) and Allen Park Education President Joel Burkey.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of its school librarian, Allen Park High School’s library was recently recognized as Michigan’s 2023-24 “Model 21st Century School Library.”

The Library of Michigan’s “Model SL 21” designation, awarded to one school library each year, recognizes “high-quality school libraries and library media specialists” and aims to replicate their successful initiatives in other schools across Michigan.

“I am thrilled that the Allen Park High High School Library was honored with this award,” said MEA member Melissa Lambert, a certified media specialist at Allen Park High School. “I feel so fortunate to work in a district that values school libraries and school librarians.”

Lambert said she takes a collaborative approach to her role, working closely with classroom teachers to develop lessons on digital and information literacy, as well as partnering with the Allen Park Public Library on community education events.

“Teachers at Allen Park High School are excited about collaborating, and they regularly reach out for input on lessons or assignments,” Lambert said.
In addition to her cooperative efforts, Lambert has worked to revitalize the library’s physical space, which now includes various tactile activities that encourage students to work together and develop their critical thinking skills.

State and local officials visited Lambert’s library last week to honor her work and formally present the award.

Randy Riley, the state of Michigan’s head librarian, hailed Lambert’s community outreach efforts and Allen Park High School’s literacy programming.

“Students need to learn through a variety of experiences,” Riley said. “The activities and content that the school and school library are providing ensure that Allen Park’s students have the resources they need to achieve.”

Also on hand at last week’s ceremony was MEA Vice President Brett Smith, a fifth-grade teacher from Linden Community Schools. Smith said “school librarians like Melissa Lambert are so important when it comes to sparking students’ curiosity and helping them become lifelong learners.”

“As educators, we recognize that each student is unique, with their own background, beliefs and values,” Smith said. “Great school libraries, like this one in Allen Park, are built to acknowledge and respect this diversity among students, allowing each student to navigate their own intellectual journey.”

Looking forward, Lambert said she hopes to build on the momentum and encourage other districts to invest in their school libraries and “see the importance and value of school librarians as information specialists, collaborative teachers and community partners.”

Lambert is available to consult with other public schools to help them improve their libraries. Interested parties should reach out to her at or contact the Library of Michigan’s Karren Reish at

After all, Lambert says, “all schools deserve to have strong school library programs and a full-time school librarian.”

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