Johnna Schultz, assistant director at Effingham Public Library, received the 2020 Illinois Library Association (ILA) Reference Services Award. This award is given annually for excellence in providing assistance to library users as they seek and use information. The award is sponsored by Ancel Glink.

Schultz’s dedication to assisting users is displayed in her work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within weeks of the library closing and community members no longer having access to its services, Schultz formed a partnership with an Effingham City Council member and FISH, a local nonprofit, to support those in her community when they needed it most.

The group she spearheaded was able to provide off-site access to computers, food vouchers and applications for federal phones.

In less than 48 hours, she helped set up an unemployment site to assist those individuals and families who needed access to unemployment and PUA platforms, but who did not have computers, printers, Wi-Fi and/or fax machines. She did all this while also making sure the facility met the best practice health screening standards from the local health department.

Furthermore, as the stay-at-home order remained in place, Schultz continued to expand these services. Through her efforts, over 100 community members gained access to much-needed unemployment benefits, PUA, DHS resources, food vouchers, food pantry dates and times, phones, phone data and minutes and phone numbers for other state and local resources.

Because of her commitment to providing outstanding services for community members, Schultz is an inspiration to the profession and extremely deserving of this year’s ILA Reference Services Award.

The Reference Services Award was presented at a virtual ceremony on Oct. 22 in conjunction with the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference.

“Effingham Public Library is excited to see Schultz’s community engagement awarded by the Illinois Library Association — and even more pleased to see it continue in the Effingham County Case Manager position” said Library Director Amanda McKay.

The Effingham County Case Manager is available at the library Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., to assist with all things related to unemployment or other social service needs.

Anyone can contact the Effingham County Case Manager at 224-209-6638 or email at

The Effingham County Case Manager is a temporary position funded by the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation through the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations and the United Way of Illinois.

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