On November 30, 10 librarians were honored with the 2017 I Love My Librarian Award for their outstanding public service contributions. Selected from more than 1,100 nominations submitted by library users nationwide, the winning librarians were recognized for their leadership in transforming lives and communities through education and lifelong learning.
“This year’s I Love My Librarian Award recipients are true leaders who are inspiring and implementing strategies to better their communities,” said Jim Neal, president of the American Library Association (ALA). “Whether it’s fostering inclusion and diversity or mentoring youth, these librarians are expanding beyond their traditional roles and providing more opportunities to meet the changing needs of the patrons they serve.”
The 2017 I Love My Librarian Award recipients include three academic, four public, and three school librarians. This year’s winners are:
Julie Bill, director of library services, Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music, Los Angeles
Bill solicited feedback from hundreds of people when she built the institute’s website and app, and thanks to her efforts, students and faculty can now easily search databases, conduct research, and check out materials from smartphones and computers. She constantly encourages her all-student staff to expand their skill sets to better serve the local community.
Blount is a tireless advocate and role model for students of color. She expanded library hours and inspired the love of reading in a segment of the population that has limited access to books outside the school system. As one of her nominators says, “It was her kindness that transformed the library.”
As an enthusiastic advocate for teens, Cipolla helps students navigate complicated college applications, explore untapped passions, and acquire job experience. She also uses her gardening expertise to encourage urban patrons to grow food. “Annie’s leadership has been like a pebble thrown into a pond,” one fan wrote. “She has created many ongoing ripples.”
Cooper’s interest in local artists inspired her to mount monthly exhibits, encouraging community dialogue and creativity. She works to make the library accessible to all by training staff to better serve patrons with disabilities and has created a safe space for patrons to get reliable mental health information by accessing a collection of materials on mental illness and emotional well-being.
Inspiring youth to pursue creative and philanthropic endeavors is one of Doan’s goals, and she accomplishes this by hosting theatrical performances and encouraging charitable fundraising. “Laurie helps each kid discover their passion,” says one of her mentees, “and she does everything she can to help us develop those passions.”
Fayoyin responds in writing to every suggestion or complaint left on the comment board, and attends university forums so she can better understand and address student concerns about library capabilities. Students have said that it would be helpful if all campus departments put the same effort and work into their departments as Fayoyin consistently does.
Natalia Fernández, curator and archivist of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and Oregon State University (OSU) Queer Archives, OSU, Corvallis, Oregon
Fernández is a campus leader in social justice and activism. As codirector and lead archivist for the OSU Queer Archives, she diligently works to preserve stories from the LGBTQ community. She has also contributed significantly to expanding the boundaries of the library and multicultural archive to communities of color.
At a school where students speak 23 different languages, Kochel has taken great strides to create a welcoming environment that promotes access and inclusion for all. Book circulation has tripled in her two years at the school, and she has built up the community and encouraged reading through book clubs, reading contests, and scavenger hunts.
Platt is celebrated for her initiatives to inspire the love of literacy, such as hosting family nights in the library, personally contacting student households each week, and turning her office into a bookstore where kids can buy books with points they earn by reading. “She is tireless in her efforts to help every child (and teacher and parent) feel valued, supported, and enthusiastic about reading,” says one nominator.
Timothy Ryan, young adult services librarian and circulation supervisor, Rochester (N.Y.) Public Library
Two years ago, a young family sought refuge in Ryan’s branch after leaving an abusive household. Ryan helped them access the resources needed to escape poverty and get back on their feet. “The library is now my home away from home,” the nominator says, and Ryan continues to provide underserved youth with transformative tech tools and assistance with school, job preparation, and legal advice.
In the United States, 190,000 librarians work in libraries of all types, and only 100 librarians have been selected for this distinguished honor since its inception in 2008.
Each winning librarian received a $5,000 prize on November 30 at an award ceremony and reception hosted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which cosponsors the award with New York Public Library and The New York Times. ALA administers the award through its Public Awareness Office, which promotes the value of libraries and librarians.
For more information regarding the 2017 I Love My Librarian Award recipients, please visit ilovelibraries.org/ilovemylibrarian.