MLA from the mountains to the prairies

Cates Committee Chair

    Title: Sheila Cates Scholarship Committee Chair

    VISION: For the committee to have enough in ever-growing interest and endowment principal to be able to support all scholarship requests and to put on the best, most fun fundraiser and silent auction every year.

    MISSION STATEMENT: The mission of the Sheila Cates Scholarship Committee is two-fold:

    • The first is to honor the memory of Sheila Cates, a true professional librarian who cared for the development of every librarian and library in Montana.
    • The second purpose is to instill in others Sheila’s vision of professional development by awarding a biennial scholarship to a MLA member to pursue a Masters in library and/or information science or a school library media certification.


    Goal I. To preserve the memory of Sheila Cates in Montana libraries.


    • To promote and award a scholarship in Sheila’s name (ongoing).
    • To submit articles concerning Sheila Cates and the scholarship to the MLA newsletter “FOCUS” every year. And to also promote via Wired.
    • To prepare and deliver a press announcement to the award winner’s local and hometown newspaper as awarded.

    Goal II. To promote professional growth and development in Montana libraries.


    • To award a biennial scholarship for a masters in library and/or information science or a school library media certification.
    • To consistently make MLA members aware of the scholarship (ongoing).
    • Use the MLA Webpage to announce scholarship winners and past and future fundraising activities.

    Goal III. To continue the support of the scholarship award in Sheila Cates’ honor to a MLA member on a biennial basis.


    • To review the principal funds annually and make recommendations to the best method of investing.
    • To review annually the distribution of the interest made on the principal fund.
    • To review the scholarship application form, selection criteria, selection procedures, and brochure on a yearly basis.
    • To maintain accurate records concerning the Cates Scholarship and fundraising activities.
    • To plan and execute at least one annual fundraising event in addition to a silent auction.
    • To continue to increase the principal money in the scholarship account (ongoing).
    • To review the goals and objectives of the committee at the spring meeting every year.
    • To review and maintain information about the scholarship on the MLA Webpage every year.


    January – Committee makes announcement regarding conference fundraising event on Wired and in Focus.
    January – Committee puts out call for silent auction items for MLA Conference.
    February-contact past scholarship winners. Ask them to participate in fundraising event at conference and also contribute to silent auction.
    April -Hold fundraiser and silent auction at MLA Conference
    May – Cates Committee posts applications on MLA Website and makes announcement of Cates Scholarship deadline in July.
    June 30-Budget to MLA President
    May 30-Budget to MLA Executive Director
    July 1-Scholarship application deadline
    July 15-Copies of applications distributed to committee members
    Aug. 1-Committee rating sheets to chair
    Aug. 8-Committee makes decision
    Aug. 10-Scholarship winner decision made, recipient notified. Form sent to recipient that needs to be filled out and returned to Executive Director. Get photo of recipient.
    Mid-August – Notify library community of scholarship winners
    Sept. 1– Updated Cates Scholarship section on MLA Webpage, including photo.


    • Prepare and present budget to MLA President.
    • Attend MLA Board meetings at request of MLA President.
    • Present investment changes to the MLA Board for approval.
    • Make sure the Committee is filled in concert with MLA President.
    • Inform new committee members of committee mission and goals.
    • Keep committee on task.
    • Solicit ideas for an annual fundraising event.
    • Coordinate volunteers for silent auction room at conference


    Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson, Chair
    Bobbi deMontigny
    Della Dubbe
    Jo Flick
    Mary Guthmiller
    Mary Anne Hansen
    Cherie Heser
    Jim Kammerer
    Anita Scheetz


    Printing/Postage $50.00
    Supplies $50.00
    Scholarship $4000.00
    Total $4,100.00


    In 1993 Montana libraries lost a great librarian and friend. Sheila Cates was a wonderful librarian and a fantastic person. Many librarians in the state knew and worked with Sheila on many different committees and with her different positions in libraries in Montana. Sheila Cates was the best example of what a librarian should be. She loved people, information, and helping people. She began her library career in 1969 as a school librarian in Lawton, Oklahoma. She served as a library consultant in Wisconsin in 1977, and in 1981 came to Montana to the position of Library Media Specialist. In 1985 Sheila became the Library Development Coordinator at the Montana State Library. She held this position until her death from cancer in 1993. In 1994 to honor Sheila’s memory, MLA instituted the Sheila Cates Scholarship to provide financial support to MLA members seeking graduate degrees in library and /or information science. Each year the Cates Scholarship Committee raises money to support this scholarship and to also increase the endowment. The original goal was to raise $20,000 by 2000. That goal was accomplished in 1999. At that time the Committee looked seriously at its missions and goals and decided to increase the scholarship amount from $500 awarded annually to $2000 awarded biennially. The Committee also decided to continue raising money for the endowment with the purpose of providing a second $2000 scholarship at some time in the future. At this time, we are typically awarding two $2,000 scholarships. Annual fundraising events generally occur during MLA conference and have included silent and live auctions, bingo, bowling, wine and dessert reception, Sumo wrestling, trivia, and a geography bee. Although the fundraising events have the serious purpose of supporting the Cates Scholarship, the Committee strives to make the events fun. As a result the Cates Committee may have more fun than any other MLA committee.

    Updated August and October 2000
    Updated November 2017

    Montana Library Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. PO Box 823, Arlee, MT 59821

    2024 Montana Library Association

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