February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

‘I Love My Librarian’ Awards Honor Three School Librarians


Julie Hatsell Wales, Sue Kowalski, and Rae Anne Locke.


Three school librarians who create a spirit of community in their libraries were among 10 recipients of the 2012 I Love My Librarian awards.

Susan Kowalski of the East Syracuse (NY) Minoa School District, Rae Anne Locke of Westport (CT) Public Schools, and Julie Hatsell Wales of Brevard County (FL) Schools joined their public and academic colleagues and 200 supporters in an award ceremony on Tuesday evening, December 18, at the New York Times Center in Manhattan.

The award, an initiative of the American Library Association sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the New York Times, drew 1,500 nominations from around the country. A committee of librarians selected the winners.

Kowalski’s nominations cited her “cunning ideas,” including an “iStaff Mobile Innovation Studio,” a mobile station at her library with an iPad, projector, and computers. Students versed in this technology assist their peers using the equipment for school projects at the Pine Grove Middle School in East Syracuse, where Kowalsky is school librarian.

“When you believe in something you inevitably put your heart and soul into it,” Kowalski told SLJ. “I’m a passionate believer in the power of libraries and continue to do just that.”

Locke’s innovations included creating digital book trailers with her students and creating a monthly digital school newsletter in collaboration with a technology teacher at Westport’s Saugatuck Elementary School, where she’s a library media specialist, according to her nomination.

Locke’s “Secret Garden Library,” which she created in 2002, nurtures each student individually, read the nomination. She was recognized more broadly for her collaborations with teachers and students that collectively create a culture honoring literacy and the dignity of each learner.

Davia Phillips, a second grade teacher at Saugatuck, called Locke “a collaborator who goes the extra mile.” Melissa Augeri, a parent and volunteer at the school, praised Locke for her ability to get kids reading, saying, “she knows what they like.”

Wales was called “the glue that holds this school together” by a social studies teacher at the McNair Magnet School in Rockledge, FL, who supported her nomination. School librarian Wales was singled out for helping students and fellow educators keep their information literacy skills up to date and directing them to reliable databases. Wales also wrote grants ranging from $500 to $1.9 million that “brought vital resources to the school,” the nomination said.

While accepting her award, Wales lamented the reduction of the number of school librarians across the nation. “It is like ripping the heart from the school body,” she said.

Among the other winners was 40-year veteran public librarian Mary Ellen Pellington, director of the Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup, NM.  She told the audience, “You can count potholes but you cannot measure the impact of one story hour on the lives of children.”

Rachel Hyland, whose wit and energy brought changes to the Tunxis Community College Library in Farmington, CT, attributed her “librarian genetic makeup” to her grandmother, who worked for 50 years in a high school library in Hartford, CT.

“We make a difference. Some of it is big and some of it is small,” said Greta E. Marlatt, librarian at the Knox Library at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, where she works with first responders. Audience members who were first responders received a standing ovation.

Creating a sense of community among the homebound population was one of the achievements of Madlyn S. Schneider of the Queens Library in Queens Village, NY. Schneider maintains contact with isolated patrons through Skype and conference calls.

Also honored were Beatriz Adriana Guevara of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, NC, along with academic librarians Dorothy J. Davison of the Horrmann Library at Wagner College (NYC) and Roberto Carlos Delgadillo of the Peter J. Shields Library at the University of California, Davis.

Robert Massie, author of Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman (Random House, 2011) and winner of the 2012 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, praised the work of librarians in a speech. Massie, former president of The Authors Guild, also asked that librarians fight to maintain copyright, saying, “without copyright, there won’t be authors.”

Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, said, “Sandys come and go, but libraries always stand.”

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.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.

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  1. Congratulations! What an exciting night! Wish I could have been there!


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