The American Library Association (ALA) announced 10 winners of its I Love My Librarian Award on January 11. Recipients were nominated by patrons nationwide for their expertise, dedication, and profound impact on the people in their communities.
“During an unprecedentedly challenging year, librarians have risen to the occasion, providing much-needed resources to their communities from a safe distance,” said ALA President Julius C. Jefferson Jr. “Congratulations to this year’s I Love My Librarian Award winners, who have worked tirelessly to assist, engage, and empower the people they serve.”
Honorees will each receive a $5,000 cash prize, a $750 donation to their library, and complimentary registration to ALA’s 2021 Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits Virtual. The virtual award ceremony will take place during the conference at 2:30 p.m. Central on January 23 and will stream live on YouTube.
This year’s award recipients include four academic librarians, three public librarians, and three school librarians.
Director of Library Services
Hayward (Calif.) Public Library
As library director, Addleman has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic with inspiring optimism and extensive expertise. Her efforts include removing barriers to online library card registration, distributing technology to community members in need, and purchasing a bookmobile to distribute resources throughout the area.
Addleman came to Hayward Public Library in January 2019 as director of library services during a time of great transition for the department, including construction of a new building that was already a year behind schedule. Unfortunately, six months after the new library finally opened, it had to close again because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “In what was a dark time for many, Addleman’s optimism and enthusiasm shone through,” nominators wrote. She swiftly leveraged resources to purchase a bookmobile for the community.
As nominators wrote, “She never misses an opportunity to connect with the public and community partners and stakeholders.”
Director of the Library and Instructional Design
MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston
Bell’s leadership has transformed the MGH Institute library into a world-class resource for teaching and learning, offering information literacy training for all students, open access course materials, and wide-ranging expertise in instructional design.
When Bell started as the sole librarian at MGH Institute in 2008, she supported the information literacy needs of five graduate degree programs that include 81 faculty members and 835 students. Over 12 years, the institute has grown to offer 11 degree programs to 1,600 students taught by 120 faculty members. Throughout the expansion, Bell has contributed significantly to the MGH Institute’s ability to sustain its mission.
Bell has gone beyond a typical consulting role to develop written and video tools to help students. “Jessica routinely exceeds the bounds of her job description,” her nominators wrote.
Associate Dean of University Libraries
Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas
Nominators recognized Bird for his tireless dedication to Washburn’s students, many of whom are low-income, first-generation, and people of color. During 2020’s emergency shift to online learning, he led a technology lending program that distributed laptops to every student who needed one.
Bird has been a compassionate advocate for underrepresented students for more than a decade. His vision culminated in the creation of the Center for Student Success and Retention, a unit within Washburn’s Mabee Library. He also helped found the Ichabod Success Institute, a nationally recognized bridge program for students from underrepresented groups.
“It has been a professional privilege for me to see his lead-by-example style of management and his unwavering commitment to ensuring our faculty, staff, and students are safe and have access to the library,” one colleague wrote.
Health Sciences Librarian
University of Arizona, Phoenix Biomedical Campus
Bishop is a champion for social justice, raising much-needed awareness about racism in health sciences literature and leading the College of Medicine to develop more equitable and inclusive curricula. She has also contributed valuable research and reference capability to the local medical community during the pandemic.
Since Bishop started in her role as an academic health sciences librarian, she has created innovative programs and projects for the campus library. She has been influential in working with the Narrative Medicine program to bring graphic medicine resources into the library’s collection. She is passionate about combating racism in medicine. Over the summer, she cocreated a LibGuide about racism in medicine that educated students, faculty, and staff.
Bishop also works to promote Indigenous authors and children’s books. She is a member of the American Indian Youth Literature Awards committee for Indigenous authors and illustrators.
Middle School Librarian
Beverly Vista Middle School Library in Beverly Hills, California
Braun has worked tirelessly to ensure the library continues to serve the Beverly Vista Middle School community during the pandemic. Over the summer, he put in hundreds of hours to make sure students had their supplies safely before school opened. He came in every day to coordinate and check out 900 canvas bags of textbooks based on each student’s schedule, organized alphabetically and by grade level.
The superintendent wrote that Braun’s bagged distribution system was a “national model for safety and efficiency, providing students with an exciting, safe, and efficient way to kick off the school year in the middle of this unprecedented pandemic.”
Braun also ensured that each of the clubs he sponsors in the library is able to meet through Zoom, and he has employed his technology skills to develop a secure head-to-head online chess forum where students can gather, chat, and play against one another during the pandemic.
Bilingual Outreach Youth Services Librarian
Sacramento (Calif.) Public Library
Equal parts creative, technologically savvy, knowledgeable of cultural trends, a generous mentor, and a community convener, Estrada-Huerta has not just elevated Spanish-language services but also helped many others throughout her library system.
Her programs are joyful, fun, and filled with elements that surprise and engage participants, according to her nominator. Each April, Estrada-Huerta creates an engaging El Día de los Niños program that travels around the 100 square miles of Sacramento County.
She also created a popular Spanish-language Tween Book Club that engages youth ages 9–12 to read and discuss a chapter of a book every week while also enjoying other activities with art or special guests, such as meeting tweens from a local roller derby club.
“Adilene Estrada-Huerta represents my greatest hope for what a librarian can be and is an outstanding example of why communities love their librarians,” her nominator wrote.
Librarian for Chinese Collections
University of California, Berkeley
Chinese studies scholars in Berkeley and beyond rely on He for expert assistance locating hard-to-find sources. Her vast network of research contacts, welcoming demeanor, and extensive subject knowledge have made her indispensable to the scholarly community.
The Chinese studies community at UC Berkeley spans 25 departments, with more than 50 core faculty members and hundreds of students and visiting scholars. He is a familiar face to all, a friendly presence at the library, and a reliable sight at events, research seminars, student presentations, and even the graduate student group chat.
“She is so resourceful and knowledgeable that she always knows where to hunt for the obscure archival materials from across the country and the globe,” one colleague wrote. He was instrumental in their acquisition of the Paul Fonoroff Collection on Chinese Film and Media Culture, the largest collection outside China.
“Jianye is the best librarian that I have ever worked with in my three-decade-long teaching and research career in North America,” another colleague wrote.
K–5 Media Specialist
International School at Dundee in Greenwich, Connecticut
Martellino is recognized for creating a vibrant culture of literacy on the International School at Dundee (ISD) campus and beyond. Her efforts include launching the school’s Battle of the Books and “one book, one school” initiatives, as well as founding the Charter Oak Book Award in 2010, Connecticut’s first K–3 book award program.
She is an exceptional librarian, educator, and a valued member of the school and community. Along with volunteer parent and staff support, she makes a Mr. Wiggles—a stuffed green bookworm—for about 60 children every year. To date there are approximately 180 Mr. Wiggles residing in ISD family’s homes and around 500 worldwide, keeping students company while they devour books alongside their very own bookworm.
“Jane is outstanding,” one nominator wrote. “With her lightning-fast mind, generous spirit, and boundless energy, she has enriched and reshaped our ISD community in countless positive ways.”
Northeastern High School in Manchester, Pennsylvania
“Not many librarians go above and beyond their position in the way Jen does,” her nominators wrote. “Sometimes her efforts are as big as hosting major events like a STEM workshop for all sophomores. And sometimes her efforts are as simple as offering a cold bottle of water from her office fridge to a busy student.”
Newcome has reinvented the library since taking over in 2002. On display, students can find STEM games, new fiction, SAT and ACT study guides, pictures of classmates, and even a therapy dog, Otter, who comes to visit students every Wednesday.
Newcome has created course content for digital concepts, health, foreign language, and English classes, and as lead teacher, she finds unique, engaging ways to reach a variety of learners.
Youth Services Coordinator
Anchorage (Alaska) Public Library
In November 2018, Anchorage suffered a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Once the library was cleared to allow the public back in, Nicolai quickly set up daily programs for patrons as well as students whose schools were closed because of damage.
During the pandemic, Nicolai worked with her team to offer services to the community’s children. In addition to weekly virtual storytimes, she initiated weekly STEAM-friendly “Programs-to-Go,” with materials offered via curbside service. These kits were the breakout hit of the summer—Anchourage Public Library gave out more than 1,500 packets in June alone.
As the mother of two tribally enrolled Alaska Native children, she also brings a much-needed perspective to the library’s services and resources. Her experiences have helped propel Anchorage Public Library to respect and honor the many cultures in Anchorage. Her accomplishments also include partnering with the Anchorage School District to register more than 90% of local students for a public library card.
“Elizabeth is a bridge builder,” her nominators wrote.
Since 2008, library supporters have shared more than 20,000 nominations detailing how librarians and library workers have gone above and beyond to promote literacy, expand access to technology, and support diversity and inclusion in their communities. ALA received 1,865 nominations for this year’s award, showcasing the achievements of librarians and library workers across the country—particularly librarians’ swift and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from hosting virtual programs to safely distributing books and technology to those in need.
Carnegie Corporation of New York sponsors the I Love My Librarian Award. New York Public Library also supports the award. ALA administers the award through its Communications and Marketing Office, which promotes the value of libraries and librarians.
Information regarding previous award winners can be found on the I Love My Librarian website.