Leading librarian Elizabeth Jones has been named the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal winner 2024.
The award is presented annually to a person for their lifetime achievement and significant contribution to the broad field of children’s and young adult literature and literacy. It will be presented at Storylines annual Margaret Mahy National Awards Day in Auckland on 7 April 2024, at which Elizabeth will present the Storylines Margaret Mahy Lecture.
Elizabeth Jones is currently Director of Literacy and Learning at National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa. She is responsible for leading the library’s nationwide services to school communities, supporting literacy and learning, reading engagement and library development; and for strengthening initiatives and partnerships that help to grow a nation of readers.
Over the years she has contributed widely to literacy and support for children’s literature through developments she has led at the National Library and her involvement in external organisations. Elizabeth was on the steering committee and a founding member of the New Zealand Childrens Book Foundation and has been a Convenor and Judge of the Children’s Book Awards and Book Industry awards. She was on the organising committee for the World Congress of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) in Auckland in 2016 and initiated the national cross sector creating readers hui in partnership with the New Zealand Book Council. She played a vital part in establishing the role of Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador and led the development of the Library’s Putoi Rito Communities of Readers Programme working with partners in different communities across Aotearoa to strengthen reading for pleasure and wellbeing for children and young people.
Christine Young, chair of Storylines Trust, says Storylines is delighted to be awarding Elizabeth Jones the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal this year.
“For more than 35 years she has been one of New Zealand’s most passionate, articulate, knowledgeable, and effective advocates of children and young people’s reading for pleasure and the academic and personal benefits it brings.
“Without her vision and determination, the Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador for Children and Young People, which involves partners from across the sector, would not have succeeded. I am in awe of her commitment, dedication and enthusiasm, and the way she is able to communicate with and engage others in her passionate pursuit of ensuring all tamariki and rangatahi have the opportunity and ability to enjoy reading.”
Elizabeth has been proactive in building connections and networks to grow understanding and support for reading and the role of libraries and has contributed to the development of New Zealand based insights on reading for pleasure and reading communities including project work with research partners. She has fostered relationships to support the work of others such as the Reading Together Programme, ReadNZ Te Pou Muramura and many more and strengthened collaboration with the Ministry of Education enabling more connected work on literacy strategies and priorities.
Elizabeth played a key role in the establishment of SLANZA (School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) and has led many initiatives to build capability and support for school libraries and their contribution to children’s literacy including in the Pacific. She was awarded the SLANZA honorary life membership for service to school libraries.
More broadly she has contributed to working groups and projects across education and library sectors supporting information and digital literacy and improved access to Aotearoa learning resources. Most recently she was on the Ministry of Education inter-agency group for Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories and the New Zealand Libraries Partnership Programme Governance Board. She is the Chair of the AnyQuestions Service Governance Group, a national collaboration with public library partners to provide online information literacy support and resources for students.
Other current roles include Chair of Te Awhi Rito Partners Group, member of the Literacy and Reading Standing Committee of IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) and member of the AUT GUiNZ (Growing Up In New Zealand) research project advisory group.