Washington State University Presents UNO Alum with Library Excellence Award

Barbara WardWashington State University in Pullman honored UNO alumna Barbara Ward last week with its Library Excellence Award. Ward has twice given the WSU library system more than $50,000 in books, mostly books for children and
young adults.

Once upon a time, Barbara Ward of Pullman, Wash. treated her personal library like a museum.

"I had to have my books all around me. Katrina was horrible," she said Monday. "I lost every book I owned and that was huge. I mean that's terrible, if you're a bibliophile."

Ward attained her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans College of Education and Human Development in May, 2005, several months before Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the New Orleans levees.

She was still teaching at UNO when tragedy struck in September.

Ward was trapped in the attic of her Lakeview home for 48 hours following the catastrophic breaking of the nearby 17th Street Canal levee. She was rescued by a stranger in a boat who heard her cry for help and broke through her roof with a shovel.

Ward was transported to Baton Rouge, where she spent time in a shelter at Louisiana State University. A couple who worked for then-Governor Kathleen Blanco brought Ward home with them and, together with Ward's UNO colleagues, helped her to pave the way to a new future.

Ward's new employer, Washington State University in Pullman, honored her last week with its Library Excellence Award. Ward has twice given the WSU library system more than $50,000 in books, mostly books for children and young adults, she said.

“They are mostly children's and young adult books. Those are my passion," said Ward, who taught adolescent literature for five years in UNO’s College of Education and Human Development as a graduate assistant while pursuing her doctorate.

Now a clinical assistant professor of literacy at the WSU College of Education, Ward has served in recent years on various national book award committees, including: Notable Books for Global Society, Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts and the National Council of Teachers of English.

She serves as chair of the NCTE excellence in poetry committee and is a member of the International Reading Association's Children's and Young Adult Book Award Committee. In addition, Ward reviews children's books for professional journals and writes about children's literature and reading for an online component of International Reading Association.

As a result, she collects nearly 500 books for children and young adults per year, Ward said. Rather than fill her home or office libraries, she has decided to give the books away.

WSU honored Ward with the Library Excellence Award for her generous donation of more than $50,000 in books, “having a library component in my classrooms and...having a passion for literacy,” she said.

"I lost all my books and my cats and my lifestyle, etc., etc., but at least I didn't lose my life," said Ward, who takes delight in knowing that students and others who could not afford to buy books can now read them.

"I had good times there," Ward said of her 25 years in New Orleans and the years that she spent at UNO.

Two of her mentors were April Bedford, who is now interim dean of the College of Education and Human Development and a specialist in children's literature, and Patricia Austin, professor, Ward said.

Since arriving at WSU in 2005, Ward has taught at both the Pullman and Tri-Cities campuses. She received the WSU College of Education’s 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2009, she won the State Literacy Award from the Washington Organization for Reading Development.

To learn more about Ward's many gifts to WSU, please read an article published this week by Julie Titone of WSU's College of Education.