On December 2, 10 librarians are being honored with the 2014 Carnegie Corporation of New York / New York Times I Love My Librarian Award for demonstrating the critical role librarians play in transforming lives and communities through education and lifelong learning. Selected from a pool of more than 1,000 nominations, the winning librarians join a distinguished group of award recipients. To date, only 70 librarians have received the award since its inception in 2008.
“Each day thousands of dedicated library workers have a profound impact on the quality of life in the communities that they serve,” said ALA President Courtney L. Young. “This year’s award winners provide us with a glimpse of how library workers are transforming lives through access to technology, bridging community resources, and fostering a love for learning. The I Love My Librarian Award provides a rare opportunity for both library patrons and the profession to recognize invaluable community change agents—our nation’s librarians.”
Library patrons across the country who use public, school, college, community college, or university libraries submitted nominations. The nominations detailed stories about how local librarians made a meaningful difference in their lives. One librarian provides literacy resources for underserved populations, including youths detained in a juvenile detention facility, while another established a career center offering tutoring in résumé writing, interviewing classes, and services to veterans seeking employment opportunities. Another secured a grant to modernize a school library with 21st century technology to help bridge the digital divide for students.
Each winning librarian will receive a $5,000 prize at an award ceremony and reception held this week in New York City, hosted by the New York Times.
In the United States, there are a total of 165,986 certified librarians and more than 200,000 dedicated library workers who offer services to the elderly, job seekers, small business owners, families, students, and many others. Librarians are continually working to meet the changing needs of library users and the communities they serve.
This year’s I Love My Librarian Award recipients are:
Michael Beller, F. W. Olin Library, Mills College, Oakland, California. Michael was nominated for his ability to inspire students: “After a session with Michael, students are excited about their research. He creates an environment where curiosity is awakened. He employs creative and unforgettable examples to demonstrate research concepts, for example, the history of polka dots examined through the use of the library’s subscription databases. The attention of the students might be enhanced by the fact that he happens to be wearing a polka dot shirt and tie while discussing the subject.” As a child, Michael’s favorite book was The Phantom Tollbooth. To this day, he says it’s the greatest book in the world: “The main character gets to appreciate learning through these adventures. The idea that learning opens up your life, allows you to appreciate more of what’s around you, that means so much to me.”
Cherry Hamrick, Delta Township District Library, Lansing, Michigan. More than half of the people who nominated Cherry affirmed that one of the most interesting aspects of her ability to inspire a love of literature is her customary signature at the end of each email she sends or replies to, no matter the recipient. She always includes “The book I am presently reading” and then lists the title of a book, and “The book I am presently listening to” and then lists the title of a recorded book. One nominator commented: “Isn’t that a great way to get folks to think about literature? It’s always fun to get a librarian’s perspective on a good book!” An inveterate runner who has run marathons in China, Antarctica, Detroit (twice), Bayshore, Big Sur, and Chicago, Cherry has organized an Annual Run for Reading for the past nine years that has raised awareness within the community and had more than 500 participants annually from the entire Midwest.
Jessica Elaine Holmes, Westridge Elementary School Library Media Center, Frankfort, Kentucky. Jessica directs the Battle of the Books competition, a county-wide reading promotion program and end-of-the-year academic tournament for 4th- and 5th-grade students. She also coordinates the school’s participation in the Pizza Hut Book It! and Lexington Legend’s Hit the Books reading incentive programs. These programs have significantly increased the amount of reading Westridge students do on a daily basis. Nominator Cari Hamlin wrote that Jessica is “constantly coming up with ideas to make our school grow as a learning community. She has a separate room that she uses as a Collaboration Café for teachers and staff. The Collaboration Café brings teachers and the librarian together to improve classroom instruction.” Jessica also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky where she teaches children’s literature to undergraduate students.
Lynn Hancock Hurt, Brown Library, Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke. Lynn embraces the vision of the college as a student-oriented center for lifelong learning and she is constantly seeking ways to have the library engage more with student life and learning on campus. She has been active on the book selection committee for “Roanoke Valley Reads,” a community-wide reading experience that brings people together and promotes reading on campus. As the library coordinator, Lynn always participates in this very public event and helps hand out copies of free books to students. Library Specialist Faith Janney wrote that Lynn “has a wonderful ability to relate to others.” Helping students, faculty, staff, and community patrons, often using humor to put them at ease, is a trademark of her leadership. Laugher, smiles, and service are important aspects to Lynn’s everyday work ethic.
David Lopez, Santa Ana (Calif.) Public Library. David has been instrumental in creating special programming that reaches youth and seniors through community-based workshops both at the library and the Garfield Community Center (GCC), which is an extension of the main library that he helped to open in 2014. Since then, David has launched library programming at GCC, issued more than 200 new library cards, established a sought-after tutoring program, and served as liaison between the school district and the Library/Parks agency. David worked as a volunteer with Barrio Writers for four years, always bringing his knowledge of the community and resources to the table. He led various workshops on creative nonfiction, poetry, and community writing; provided snacks and transportation to and from enriching field trips; and served as a mentor for at-risk youth.
Christine “Christy” Payne, Appoquinimink High School, Middletown, Delaware. Christy is always trying to bring something new to the school, the district, or the state of Delaware. She launched an annual literacy event for boys and men called Real Men Read, where she brings in football players, snake-keepers, authors, and comic book creators to speak about the importance of reading. In 2012, she assumed responsibility for the statewide celebration “Festival of Words” (formerly hosted by the University of Delaware) that features such authors as Walter Dean Myers and Ellen Hopkins. Nominator Rachel Wagner wrote: “Christy is truly a jack of all trades. In addition to book club and a new Gay Straight Alliance, she also serves as the advisor of Paintball Club. All sorts of students head over to the range with her to speckle themselves in color, and throughout her time at Appoquinimink, she has roped many teachers into the interesting experience as well.”
Kevin M. Ray, Martin Luther King branch, Cleveland Public Library. Kevin does a lot of outreach in the community; from his visits to local daycare centers and the juvenile detention center, Kevin values all of the library’s patrons. An aspiring author himself, Kevin has, through his Writing Workshop program, inspired some youth and coworkers to begin their own writing projects. Nominator Anthony Dandridge wrote: “Kevin is always coming up with unique programs for the youth at the MLK branch. They never know what to expect, which is a good thing. I have seen him build roller coasters with them, inspire them to read, write, and imagine a better world. He has a love for comic books and anime, which makes him very relatable to young readers. I can attest to his love for the library and what he does. He couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Ciro Scardina, P.S. 18—The John G. Whittier School Library, Staten Island, New York. Having been a 4th-grade teacher for nine years prior to becoming a librarian, Ciro is very knowledgeable and capable when it comes to administering and analyzing running records. He is also one of the more knowledgeable teachers on the staff when it comes to Common Core Standards, and is indispensable both in choosing a picture book that highlights a specific reading strategy and deciphering text complexity, range, and quality. Nominator Donna Desantis wrote: “Ciro is a fan of gadgets that support learning. Using grant funds, he purchased a Promethean Board, AppleTV, 30 iPads, and a student response system. He puts all this technology to fantastic use. Recently, he created a PowToon (a mashup of a PowerPoint presentation and a cartoon) to highlight his rules for the library.”
Sarah A. Sugden, Director, Waterville (Maine) Public Library. When the state department of labor closed about six years ago, Sarah stepped in and opened a Business and Career Center at the library that provides an array of services for job seekers, career changers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. Rosemary Winslow, aide to US Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), uses the center for one of Michaud’s priorities, serving veterans. Winslow said, “I have appreciated that, on a regular basis, I can connect with a local Veterans’ Employment Representative who spends one day per week assisting veterans who are looking for work.” Sarah’s interest in promoting public art has sparked connections with Waterville Main Street, which has worked with the library on an outdoor mosaic, “Au Courant.” She seeks to keep the historic library relevant to modern users through interaction, leadership development, outreach, and collaboration.
Frances Yates, Director, Indiana University East Campus Library, Richmond, Indiana. In the two years she has been library director, Frances has implemented initiatives such as a “Library Living Room” and a Library Club that have increased numbers of students being comfortable, asking for assistance, and thinking of the library as “the place to be.” Nominator Patty Crawford wrote: “Frances is a leader in innovation, establishing a ‘concierge’ library service concept that serves our campus well by providing students and faculty with one-on-one working relationships with library staff. Her leadership is also evident in her academic outreach to K–12 populations.” The university has a growing distance education program and Frances places a high priority on providing the same level of exceptional service for all library users, whether on campus or online.
For more information regarding the 2014 I Love My Librarian recipients, visit the I Love Libraries website.