I Love My Librarian Award Winners Recognized in New York

American Libraries, January-February 2011 | Go to article overview

I Love My Librarian Award Winners Recognized in New York


Ten of America's favorite librarians were honored as winners of the 2010 I Love My Librarian Award at a ceremony in New York City December 9.

The award recognizes quality service and dedication by library professionals across the country. "Libraries are among those cherished institutions that are most representative of our open society," said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. "'We must, therefore, acknowledge that libraries--and hence, librarians--are indispensable to the strength and vitality of our nation and our democracy."

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Some 2,000 librarians were nominated for the award by patrons and colleagues. Winners receive a $5,000 prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to attend the ceremony. The award is sponsored by the New York Times and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and administered by the American Library Association.

Wonderful achievements

The award winners included four public librarians, three school librarians, and three academic librarians. They were picked from some 2,000 nominations, and cited for an array of accomplishments in service, advocacy, and innovation.

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Laura Farwell Blake "is routinely described to prospective graduate students as being the Number One reason to attend Harvard for an English PhD," wrote graduate student and nominator Christine Barrett. Blake, head of services for academic programs at Harvard's Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a leader in adopting instructional technologies, developing online resources customized to the needs of individual classes, and a research partner for the more than 80 graduate students in English.

Paul Clark, technical services specialist at Clay County (Fla.) Library System, was cited for his efforts in lobbying the Florida legislature to preserve state library funding this year. The legislature originally planned, to zero out funding for the State Aid to Public Libraries program--a cut of $21.2 million that would have also made the state ineligible for $8.4 million in matching federal funds. Clark "pretty much lived in the Capitol, keeping the issue in front of legislators and the press for six weeks," said Charlie Parker, chair of the Florida Library Association Legislative Committee, in an April message announcing that state funding had been maintained. Along the way, he earned the moniker "The Library Guy."

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Ellen Dolan, director of Shrewsbury (Mass.) Public Library, is known in the community as a dedicated and innovative leader, both in providing library services and in finding ways to fund them. In the face of budget cuts, she developed the "Sunday Sponsorship" program, a private funding model that enlists local businesses to donate money to support Sunday hours at the library. As a result, the library has been open on Sundays through the fall, winter, and spring for the past several years.

Jeff Dowdy, assistant librarian at Bainbridge (Ga.) College, offers diverse resources to fulfill the varying educational needs of students at the college. "Jeff allows each to strive towards our own goals and fields of expertise quietly supporting us with his own skills, which moves each of us forward with that which would take years of training and experience otherwise." wrote one student nominator. His projects include Lib Guides that are of particular use to online students; training for the college's online systems, particularly for students with little experience with technology and as a result are less likely to complete their studies; re-accreditation documents; faculty and student orientations; and research guides for the college's first-year student experience class.

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Melissa McCollum, community library manager at the County of Los Angeles Public Library's Lawndale branch, was recognized for her innovative cultural programming, particularly for teens. …

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