On December 18, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the 10 recipients of the 2024 I Love My Librarian Award, nominated by library users for their expertise, dedication, and impact in their communities. Three academic librarians, four public librarians, and three school librarians were selected this year.
“While much of the national conversation surrounding libraries has fixated on book censorship, and as library workers across the US continue to face historic levels of intimidation and harassment, librarians’ efforts to empower their patrons and provide vital services for their communities shines a spotlight on the enduring value of libraries in our society,” said ALA President Emily Drabinski in the announcement. “The inspiring stories of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award honorees demonstrate the positive impact librarians have on the lives of those they serve each day.”
This year, ALA received nearly 1,400 nominations from library users nationwide, which demonstrates the breadth of impact of librarians across the country. Nominations focused on librarians’ outstanding service, including expanding access to literacy and library services, outreach within their communities, and supporting mental health needs.
Each honoree will receive a $5,000 cash prize as well as complimentary registration and a travel stipend to attend ALA’s LibLearnX conference in Baltimore. The award ceremony will take place during the LibLearnX welcome reception on January 19, and will stream live on YouTube.
Library Media Specialist
Robidoux Middle School in St. Joseph, Missouri
Prizes, activities, free books, and fun—the biannual Novel Nation Book Fairs at Robidoux Middle School have it all thanks to Corey.
Using grant and Title I funding, Corey researches, purchases, and sorts more than 1,200 low-cost, high-quality books each fall and spring for Robidoux Middle School. All students—many from impoverished backgrounds—take home three free books. “One parent was in tears the first time they visited the book fair, as her child had never been able to afford anything at traditional, for-profit book fairs,” one nominator shared. Corey’s efforts have allowed her students to take home more than 5,000 books that reflect their diverse backgrounds and experiences and have earned her numerous accolades in her local community for increasing access to literacy, including recognition in 2021 from the St. Joseph News-Press in its annual “20 Who Count” feature.
Corey’s impact extends to other library workers. In 2022, she created Visual Book Lists, an extensive collection of printable book recommendations covering an array of topics, genres, and identities, each with a Canva template for other librarians to adapt. In her term as 2022–2023 president of the Missouri Association of School Librarians, Corey played a central role in advocating for intellectual freedom in school libraries, coordinating with the Missouri Library Association and the ACLU of Missouri to file a lawsuit against , which would require school libraries to remove books the state deems sexually explicit. She recently raised funds for local charities supporting diversity and inclusion by selling a T-shirt she designed.
“Melissa Corey is not just our school librarian,” one of her nominators wrote. “She is an educator, a leader, a mentor, technology wiz, coworker, and friend.”
Reference and Instruction Librarian
Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon
“Energetic, caring, sleeves rolled up, and moving our profession and library forward!” is how one nominator described Dannenbaum.
For Lane Community College’s approximately 15,000 students—many from nontraditional backgrounds—Dannenbaum is making positive, lifelong impacts, particularly in its Honors Program, where she works with students taking on challenging research projects. Her dedication to supporting students’ scholarly efforts has inspired many to pursue advanced degrees after graduating. Dannenbaum’s efforts also extend internationally: Her research has explored ways in which libraries in the US and abroad support new citizens and refugees, and she is currently serving as a Fulbright Specialist for libraries through 2025.
Dannenbaum brings her passion for art and creativity into her library service, from helping develop and oversee the library’s makerspace to creating an exhibit area featuring rotating displays. This passion shines through in her student mentorship, which was highlighted repeatedly by alumni. As one former student recalled, a simple conversation in the library about their art with Dannenbaum—and a nudge to use the makerspace—sprouted a journey into scientific research. “I learned over the years that I attended Lane that Claire Dannenbaum was much more than a librarian. She became my teacher and mentor and showed a supportive, empathetic, and welcoming spirit that always went beyond my expectations.”
Assistant Director of New Initiatives and Partnership Liaison, New Americans Program
Queens Public Library in Jamaica, New York
At Queens Public Library (QPL), located in the nation’s most ethnically and culturally diverse county, Gitner has been driving positive social change for new Americans seeking support for nearly three decades.
As asylum seekers wait in a long line outside the library’s doors each morning to apply for identification cards, Gitner’s team in the New Americans Program works to connect them to education opportunities and resources they need to successfully acclimate to life in New York and the US. From the physical and online resources in QPL’s “New Americans Corners” to live phone interpretation services in more than 240 languages, Gitner has been central in improving services for a community where half of residents were born outside the US.
Gitner’s mentoring of current and aspiring librarians is a focus of his efforts to increase the influence of the library. One QPL mentee noted that Gitner’s guidance fostered her career growth and vision for extending the library’s workshops and cultural activities in Bengali, which in turn helped expand services to the county’s expanding Bangladeshi community. Gitner also coordinates QPL’s international partnerships program which, along with facilitating the exchange of knowledge and library materials in other languages, offers opportunities for LIS students from abroad to participate in fieldwork assignments with QPL.
“Fred is always on the go and never misses a day to involve our library in helping new immigrants in our neighborhoods,” one nominator wrote. “It is truly amazing how one man can make a beautiful difference in the lives of new immigrants, their families, and his fellow library professionals.”
Malvern-Hot Spring County (Ark.) Library
From fellow librarians to local activists to the county judge and more, there’s no shortage of community leaders in the “Brick Capital of the World” who love Graham. Between expanding the Malvern-Hot Spring County Library’s (MHSCL) geographic reach, securing grant funding for library furniture and technology, hosting community dialogues that engage in difficult histories, and supporting the community’s unhoused population, she is building a strong future for Malvern and MHSCL, brick by brick.
Graham has helped expand MHSCL’s reach throughout Hot Spring County and its rural landscape. With assistance from the library’s Friends group, she acquired several coin-fed newspaper racks and converted them into Little Free Libraries spread out among the county’s more rural areas. In Bismarck—a town more than 20 miles away from Malvern—she used grant funding to create the state’s first book kiosk to offer books, movies, and more. And for the last several years, Graham has been central in the community’s effort to build a future library annex and park in Bismarck, helping obtain six acres of land and coordinate the library’s construction.
“Clare was, is, and will always be an intelligent, loving, strategic, compassionate, resourceful, caring, wise, joyful, focused, and giving leader for her staff, town, county, region, and community as a whole,” one nominator wrote. “‘Above and beyond’ is her default state.”
R. D. & Euzelle Smith Middle School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Students at Smith Middle School (SMS) have taken ownership of the library, which is exactly what librarian Graña aims for as part of his efforts to keep literacy and the library as the school’s focal point. Minority students make up more than half the student population, with many receiving free or reduced lunch benefits. Graña works to ensure the library has books that reflect their experiences and gives them the tools they need to grow as individuals, improve their skills, and express themselves with technology and opportunities. To accomplish this, he works to help SMS staff understand the library’s critical role in equalizing the educational playing field for all students.
Graña emphasizes that the library is the students’ space, and the students have commanded that ownership to the library’s benefit. To improve discoverability in the library’s collection, Graña cataloged it by genre—a seismic project completed over the summer, with students and parents jumping at the opportunity to help. Students provide input on book displays and programs, suggest books for purchase, and set individualized reading goals. And the library’s makerspace—which has grown over the years with grant funding to include two 3D printers, a Cricut cutting machine, and a music keyboard—gives all students an outlet to express themselves and engage with technology to develop new skills.
“Instead of saying, ‘I’m just the librarian, that’s all that I do,’” one nominator wrote, “Gabriel says, ‘I am the librarian, what else can I do?’”
Library Media Specialist
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida
On February 14, 2018, 17 people—14 students and three staff members—were killed and another 17 injured in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (SDHS). Haneski, a survivor of the shooting, has since been working to help her community heal and navigate through the trauma with mental health support, engaging reading programs, and special help from a furry little friend.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Haneski adopted River, a trained therapy dog that has become a fixture in the school’s library. Together, they provide critical emotional support for students and staff and have received advanced training from the organization Hope Animal-Assisted Crisis Response. “River and Diana are a dynamic duo!” one nominator shared.
Haneski’s support of her community’s mental health is vital to her work. She has become certified in mind-body medicine and advises the school’s Mind-Body Ambassadors club, created a dedicated Zen room in the library, and coordinates projects for an annual district-wide day of service dedicated to the lives lost in the 2018 shooting. But as a librarian, she remains committed to creating a culture of reading and improving literacy within SDHS and beyond. From hosting restaurant-style “book tastings” in the library to preparing students for the district-wide “Battle of the Books” to training high school reading mentors in the ReadSquad program, Haneski instills a love of reading in her community.
“Diana embodies the essence of an exceptional librarian,” one of her nominators wrote. “She has touched the lives of countless individuals and transformed our library into a vibrant hub of learning and connection.”
Gladys E. López-Soto
Patent and Trademark Resource Center Librarian
University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus
At the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez’s (UPRM) Patent and Trademark Resource Center, López-Soto helps students, inventors, and entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality.
Her knowledge of intellectual property—recognized across Puerto Rico and beyond—and the dedication she brings to educating her community have made her a “pillar of the innovation and entrepreneur ecosystem,” according to one of her nominators. López-Soto has brought many educational opportunities covering intellectual property to the university community and the public, including organizing the annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Cycle—a virtual conference attended by hundreds of participants—and creating a website designed to help Spanish-language speakers understand intellectual property rights and how to protect them.
Beyond her work in intellectual property, López-Soto helps bring global cultural experiences and education to K–12 students through her involvement with the Mi Museo, Nuestros Museos (My Museum, Our Museums) program. A collaboration between the UPRM’s art museum and the International Education Resource Network, the program connects students from different cultures in a collective virtual learning experience by encouraging students in one country to visit a museum or other cultural heritage site and describe its exhibits and their experiences with students in another country, aiming to reinforce their sense of identity and promote respect for other cultures.
“Gladys represents the soul, warmth, and hard work of all Puerto Rican librarians,” one of her nominators wrote. “She’s a true inspiration and a shining beacon in our community.”
Instructional Technologies Librarian
Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois
From the MakerLab at Northwestern University, Quiballo helps mold opportunities for vulnerable populations while building a mentorship model with students and interns.
As part of a summer program facilitated by World Relief Chicago, a Christian humanitarian resettlement organization, he introduces refugee and asylum-seeking youth to new technologies and STEM skills in the university’s makerspace. While guiding the program within the MakerLab, Quiballo also trains student workers and local high school interns to lead activities such as video production and 3D printing, and to face unforeseen obstacles. “In moments of chaos and confusion, Ted’s calm and collected demeanor proved to be a source of strength for the entire team,” one nominator wrote.
Quiballo also supports the university’s prison education program, which provides a high-quality liberal arts education to incarcerated students in Illinois. One of the first to volunteer at the program’s inception, he has worked with dozens of incarcerated students to provide research support, information literacy instruction, and other resources.
“Ted is a true treasure, and his presence has enriched the lives of everyone he has touched,” one nominator wrote. “His ability to uplift, inspire, and make a difference in the lives of those around him is truly exceptional.”
Solano County (Calif.) Library in Fairfield
As a viral sensation, Threets spreads the joy of libraries across social media with his library card tattoo and a seemingly endless wardrobe of eye-catching shirts.
Threets regularly posts videos sharing heartwarming stories of patron interactions, words of encouragement to readers or those struggling with mental health, or simple musings about his love of books. And with hundreds of thousands of followers across Instagram and TikTok, he spreads awareness far and wide about the numerous positive impacts libraries have on their communities. “He has touched many people in a positive way and has created a place for all to know they are cared about and loved,” one of his nominators wrote.
On camera, Threets advocates for mental health and representation, sharing his own struggles and frequently reminding viewers, “You are not a burden. You belong. I am so happy you are here!” At Solano County Library (SCL), he works to bring mental health support services to his community by promoting mental health awareness and best practices. He helped install SolanoConnex mental health kiosks in SCL branches, connecting patrons to a range of mental and emotional health services from substance abuse to depression and anxiety.
“Mychal’s contributions have had a transformative effect on our community,” one nominator wrote. “His devotion, innovation, and impact have elevated our library to new heights, cementing its role as a center for growth, learning, and inclusivity.”
Genealogy Center Manager and Director of Special Collections
Allen County (Ind.) Public Library
While he might joke that his job is simply “playing with dead people,” Witcher empowers living people to connect with their past and learn more about themselves.
Witcher’s expertise in genealogy has become a claim to fame for Fort Wayne, Indiana, directly contributing to thousands of visits to the community annually. His decades of work in African American and Jewish genealogy, Native American research, and more have led to the development of one of the largest genealogy collections in the country, positioning the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) as an international destination for researchers. In 2022, ACPL’s Genealogy Center held 223 in-person and virtual programs attended by more than 31,000 people.
Witcher supported the founding of several local genealogy societies, including the African American Genealogical Society of Fort Wayne and the Northeast Indiana Jewish Genealogical Society, while also forging partnerships with FamilySearch and the Internet Archive to make public domain portions of the center’s collection available online. And in a collaboration with a professor at Indiana Institute of Technology, Witcher helps students explore the intersection between the literature of family stories and the science of genealogical research, culminating in a project documenting their discoveries.
“Everyone has a story to tell, according to Curt,” one of his nominators wrote, “and he has a gift of making everyone who comes to ACPL to find their story feel seen and celebrated.”
Since 2008, library users have shared more than 24,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to promote literacy, expand access to technology, and support diversity and inclusion in their communities. Carnegie Corporation of New York sponsors the I Love My Librarian Award, with additional support from the New York Public Library. The award is administered by ALA.
Read more about previous award recipients on the I Love My Librarian Award website.