Once upon a time there was this little girl who used to go to a branch of the Passaic Public Library and continually maxed out her library card.
Senior library assistants Ms. Elaine Simon and Ms. Gloria Kuritsky took her under their wing and gave her every opportunity to expand her horizons.
At 14, Mimi Hui was invited to become a library page, working two hours a day, five days a week after high school.
Through their manner and example, these mentors instilled into her what it meant to be a professional, no matter how small the task.
She learned about "customer service" and "to help patrons with compassion".
One summer, Passaic Library Director David Robertson asked her to cover the reference desk.
This was her first introduction in being immersed as a reference librarian.
Here she developed her skills in getting to know her resources, facilitate information accurately and generously, and help patrons by filtering information into an understandable package.
While earning her Bachelor of Arts/English at Montclair State College, she worked as a resident assistant and a library assistant at the College library.
Having this on-the-job training, she formalized her librarianship by earning a Masters of Library Science (M.L.S.) at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.
Ms. Hui joined The Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library in 1999 as Assistant Director/Reference Librarian.
Some of her many duties include review, catalog and develop library collections, train staff and perform one-on-one bibliographic instruction with the public, plan, organize and implement adult and teen programs, handle and coordinate staff scheduling, etc.
As the reference librarian she takes her role as a public servant seriously.
"The internet has changed libraries from fixed brick and mortar to libraries without walls" she said.
"The internet is a tool that allows folks to reach more people. It allows people who are unable to go to the library (i.e., handicap) have access to information. The internet is a wonderful resource of information.
"But the problems with internet information -- is it accurate, dependable, dated -- what about the quality of all this overwhelming information?
"As an information specialist, I help folks search for information in an orderly and sequential manner that is not overwhelming, and help present it in a user friendly manner.
"I love working with the public -- with people from all walks of life, young and old -- the exposure is wonderful".
Her 20 years of library experience and professionalism were nationally recognized when a regular patron at the Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library, Justin Watrel, proposed Ms. Hui's name to the New York Times.
On December 1, 2004, The New York Times announced that Mimi Hui was the winner of the 2004 New York Times Librarian Award.
Ms. Hui, Assistant Director/Reference Librarian of The Free Public Library of Hasbrouck Heights, shared this prestigious award with 26 librarians from around the United States.
Now in its fourth year, this program honors librarians who have provided outstanding public services. Nominations from the general public were accepted from June through September 2004 and totaled nearly 1,500 nominations from 47 states.
The Times held a reception in honor of the winners on December 15th at which each winner received $2,500 and a commemorative plaque from the Times. A separate plaque featuring Mimi Hui's name and title was sent to the Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library.
"We are very happy to have the opportunity to celebrate public librarians from across the country, whose enormous contributions sometimes go unrecognized," said Alyse Myers, vice president, marketing services, The New York Times. This program demonstrates, year after year, how crucial libraries and librarians are to people in every part of the nation. From big cities to small towns, people look to their local libraries for information, education, entertainment, culture and community, and the librarians are there to help them find it all. The Times is proud to honor the work of their librarians who bring people together over books around the common belief that access to information is part of the bedrock of our society."
This years winners represent 14 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.
In recognition of the programs origins in New York City and the local history of the awards, 15 awards will go to librarians from New York City, New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut. The remaining 12 will go to exemplary librarians from six regions around the nation: the Northeast, the South, the Midwest and Great Lakes, the Mountain and Plains States, the Southwest and the West.
In addition to being awarded the NY Times Librarian of the Year for 2004, her honors include being a member of Beta Phi Mu (National Honor Society of Librarians) and a Certified Librarian for the State of New Jersey.
Ms. Hui is a member of the Bergen County Library Cooperative (BCCLS) English as a Second Language Committee.
In addition, she belongs to the NJ Library Association (NJLA) scholarship committee also serving as chair, and the American Library Association (ALA).
In her spare
time, Mimi is involved with church activities.
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