The Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Times, and the American Library Association (ALA) honored the 10 recipients of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award at a reception December 17 in New York City. The award drew more than 1,100 nominations from around the country, and the winners—including three school media specialists—were chosen by a committee of ALA leadership.
The 2013 media specialists were Kathleen Meulen Ellison, a middle school librarian who had been nominated by her aide for the past three years straight; Jennifer J. Jamison, a high school librarian whose nominator called her “nurturing, innovative, and passionate”; and Charlotte Carr Vlasis, a K–8 librarian whose nominator praised her ability “to build knowledge and resources for solid instruction.”
Another youth services winner named this year was Holly Camino, a public librarian who was nominated by a teen patron for daily providing a welcoming environment for 90 students after school.
Although Vlasis, from the Chattanooga (TN) School for the Liberal Arts, was unable to attend the ceremony, Ellison, Jamison, and Camino were all on hand in NYC to accept their awards personally. Their acceptance speeches revealed a lot about the unique roles they each play at their libraries.
For example, Ellison is the known as the “fish person” at Sonoji Sakai Intermediate school in Bainbridge Island, WA. She and her students raise about 1,000 salmon from eggs and release them into a stream behind the school to help make their local water healthier.
Jamison, meanwhile, relishes her role as the “traveling librarian”. She has transformed three elementary schools in Atlantic City, NJ, and initiated innovative programs that include having students Skype with Santa Claus. It has been quite a year for Jamison, who began 2013 by aiding in recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy—the force of which destroyed at least one school library in the community—and went on to win this year’s American Association of School Librarians’ Program of the Year Award. At Atlantic City High School, where she is now working, Jamison is aiming to “create a facility where students get information from an expert and when they walk out the door they are able to use it.”
And for Camino, who serves as branch manager at the Buckeye Library in Medina, OH, says she keeps her teen patrons busy in the “Teen Territory” area of the library, filling a need for students who are stranded after school due to school bussing cuts in the rural community. The library staff calls this now daily occurrence “the great migration.” Camino grew up in the local community, which her nominator, high school senior John McCullough, said “makes her care even more.”
Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie’s president, and Richard Ford, winner of the 2013 Carnegie Medal for Fiction, also made remarks at the event praising the role of librarians.
The other winners are Julia Allegrini, Covington (KY) Branch of the Kenton County Public Library; Dr. Shahla Bahavar, University of Southern California (LA) Libraries; Harold M. Forbes, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries; Caroline “Xiaofang” Han, Cleveland Public Library; Julie Kane, Sweet Briar (VA) College; and Molly Ledermann, Missoula (MT) Public Library.
Each honoree received a $5,000 cash award, a plaque, and a $500 travel stipend to attend the awards reception in New York City. Nominees must be librarians with a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited MLIS program or a master’s specializing in school library media from an educational unit accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Only 60 librarians nationwide have been given the award since its inception in 2008. The librarians were selected for “their dedicated public service and the valuable role they play in our nation’s communities in transforming lives through education,” the ALA says.