March 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Librarians Celebrated at the 2014 I Love My Librarian Awards

One of the award recipients, David Lopez, a librarian at the Santa Ana (CA) Public Library. All photos courtesy of Sara Kelly Johns

One of the award recipients, David Lopez, a librarian at the Santa Ana (CA) Public Library. All photos courtesy of Sara Kelly Johns

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 on December 2 in New York City.

The award drew more than 1,000 nominations from around the country, and the winners—including three school librarians—were chosen by a committee of ALA leaders.

For one of the winners, Ciro Scardina, a library media specialist from P.S. 18 in Staten Island, NY, the award was the culmination of a year of national recognition for him. Earlier this year he was named a 2014  Library Journal Movers & Shakers in the Advocacy category.

“I was absolutely and totally gobsmacked!” says Scardina on his being selected for the I Love My Librarian Award. He shares that when he received the call from ALA to inform him of the news, he thought to himself, “Wow, this woman really sounds like Barbara Stripling.”

Award recipients (l to r): Ciro Scardina,

Award recipients (l to r): Ciro Scardina, Jessica Elaine Holmes, Christine Payne, and Frances Yates.

(Stripling, who is the past most-recent president of ALA, served as chair of the award selection committee.)

Scardina is “a fan of gadgets that support learning” said Donna Desantis, a trainer at the Teacher Center at the United Federation of Teachers, who’d nominated the Staten Island school librarian. “He bring an infectious vitality and vibrancy to P.S. 18 with his out-of-the box thinking.”

In addition, in 2013 he was awarded a Heart of America/Target School Library Makeover grant for the renovation of his library.  He also formed a partnership with the Food Bank of New York and has made the last Friday of every month a day for food distribution for the students-in-need at his school.

Watch video of Ciro Scardina’s acceptance speech:

Scardina joined nine other school librarian award recipients: Michael Beller, head of Reference & Access Services at the F.W. Olin Library at Mills College in Oakland CA; Cherry Hamrick, director of the Delta Township District Library in Lansing MI; Lynn Hancock Hurt, coordinator of Library Services for Brown Library at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke; David Lopez, librarian at the Santa Ana (CA) Public Library; Sarah Sugden, library director at Waterville (ME) Public Library; and Frances Yates, library director of Indiana University East in Richmond; Kevin M. Ray, children’s librarian at the Cleveland (OH) Public Library; Jessica Elaine Holmes, school librarian at Westridge Elementary School in Frankfort, KY; and Christine Payne, librarian at the Appoquinimink High School in Middletown, DE.

Appoquinimink’s Payne (a past president of the Delaware Library Association) was nominated by one of her students, Rachel Wagner. In Wagner’s nomination form, her student described how Payne fights to keep literacy alive through such initiatives as Real Men Read where a diverse group of men speak on the importance of reading and a district-wide writing project called Festival of Words.

Payne, who did not know she was nominated, was shocked when she received the telephone call.

“I come to school everyday and do my job to the best of my ability, because it what I truly love to do,” she says. “From the administration to the staff to the students and parents, there is an atmosphere of student-centered learning and everyone has helped to make the library an integral piece of the educational community,” she explains.

Watch video of Christine Payne’s acceptance speech:

Westridge Elementary’s Holmes became emotional during her acceptance speech recalling the impact of her childhood school librarian, as well as the impact of Katherine Paterson’s A Bridge to Teribithia (Crowell, 1977). Reading the book after the death of her father made her realize the power of literature, and she told the audience, “I am thankful that each day I get to connect students with stories.”

A year after inheriting a dismal library, she “transformed the library into a warm and inviting place for all,” tells Charley Preston, assistant superintendent of Holmes’ district, Franklin County Public Schools. Through a host of programs, including a Student Leadership Technology Program, Mock Newbery, and “Booknic,” Holmes has formed a spirit of community. (“Booknic” is a program that asks the faculty to bring in a dish based on their favorite book.) She also created The Collaboration Café, a comfortable spot in her library, complete with coffee, where she regularly meets with teachers to collaborate on classroom instruction.

Kevin Ray, a children’s librarian at the Martin Luther King Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, was also honored.

His nominator Anthony Dandridge described how Ray works with children. “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 animé, which makes him very relatable to young readers.”

Ray brings books to local day care centers and to youth in a juvenile detention center.

Watch video of Kevin M. Ray’s acceptance speech:

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.