ALA Announces 2024 Recipients of the “I Love My Librarian” Award
Congrats to all ten recipients!
Here’s the full text of the ALA announcement:
Today the American Library Association (ALA) announced 10 recipients of the coveted I Love My Librarian Award. Honorees are exceptional librarians from academic, public, and school libraries who were nominated by patrons nationwide for their expertise, dedication and profound impact on the people in their communities.
“While much of the national conversation surrounding libraries has fixated on book censorship, and as library workers across the U.S. continue to face historic levels of intimidation and harassment, librarians’ efforts to empower their patrons and provide vital services for their communities shines a spotlight on the enduring value of libraries in our society,” said American Library Association President Emily Drabinski. “The inspiring stories of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award honorees demonstrate the positive impact librarians have on the lives of those they serve each day.”
ALA received nearly 1,400 nominations from library users for this year’s award, which demonstrates the breadth of impact of librarians across the country. Nominations focused on librarians’ outstanding service, including expanding access to literacy and library services, outreach within their communities, supporting mental health needs, and more. This year’s award recipients include three academic librarians, four public librarians and three school librarians.
Honorees will each receive a $5,000 cash prize as well as complimentary registration and a $750 travel stipend to attend ALA’s LibLearnX event in Baltimore. The award ceremony will take place during the LibLearnX welcome reception beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, and will stream live on YouTube.
The 2024 honorees are:
Robidoux Middle School, St. Joseph, Missouri
Students at Robidoux Middle School enjoy the full book fair experience from Melissa Corey’s biannual Novel Nation Book Fairs. Using grant and Title I funding, Corey researches and purchases more than 1,200 low-cost, high quality books, and each student takes home three free books. Her efforts to date have provided more than 5,000 books to her community, earning her numerous local accolades for amplifying access to literacy.
Lane Community College, Eugene, Oregon
Supporting a diverse population of approximately 15,000 students at Lane Community College, Claire Dannenbaum is making lifelong impacts through her engagement with students’ challenging research projects. Propelled by a passion for art and creativity, she helped develop the library’s makerspace, created an exhibit space featuring rotating displays, and has mentored numerous students who have gone on to pursue advanced degrees after graduation.
Queens Public Library, Jamaica, New York
At Queens Public Library in the nation’s most ethnically and culturally diverse county, Fred Gitner has been helping new Americans find support for nearly three decades. His work in the library’s New Americans Program connects immigrants and asylum seekers to education opportunities and resources, including stations inside library branches filled with materials, workshops and programs in other languages, and live phone interpretation service in more than 240 languages.
Malvern-Hot Spring County Library, Malvern, Arkansas
Clare Graham is building a strong future for the Malvern-Hot Spring County Library and its community by expanding the library’s geographic reach throughout the county’s rural landscape. Leveraging help from the library’s Friends group, she has converted coin-fed newspaper racks into Little Free Libraries and created the state’s first book kiosk in Bismarck—a town more than 20 miles from Malvern—to offer books, movies, and more. She has also been central in efforts to build a new library annex and park in Bismarck, helping secure six acres of land and coordinate the library’s construction.
R.D. & Euzelle Smith Middle School, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Gabriel Graña has given students at R.D. & Euzelle Smith Middle School command of the library space, a strategy he employs to keep literacy and the library as the school’s focal point and to give students an outlet to express themselves. Students contribute to book displays and programs, set individualized reading goals, and explore new technologies and build new skills in the library’s makerspace. Guided by their input, Graña recataloged the entire library collection by genre to improve discoverability—a seismic project completed over the summer with support from students and parents.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida
In the aftermath of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, library media specialist and survivor Diana Haneski has been working to heal and navigate her community through the trauma. She took on the responsibility of adopting River, a trained therapy dog that provides critical emotional support for students and staff, has become certified in mind-body medicine, and created a dedicated Zen room in the library. Beyond her mental health support, Haneski is creating a culture of reading at the school, hosting restaurant-style “book tastings” and training high school reading mentors in the ReadSquad program.
Gladys E. López-Soto
University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
Gladys López-Soto is helping inventors and entrepreneurs at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez and beyond turn ideas into reality with her deep knowledge of intellectual property. She has brought numerous educational opportunities to the university community and general public, including an annual virtual conference attended by hundreds, and has created a robust website designed to help Spanish language speakers understand intellectual property rights and how to protect them. López-Soto is also facilitating global cultural experiences with the Mi Museo, Nuestros Museos (My Museum, Our Museums) program, which connects students from different countries in a collective virtual experience.
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
At Northwestern University, Ted Quiballo is engaging vulnerable populations with learning opportunities and supporting the research needs of incarcerated students. Through a summer program facilitated by World Relief Chicago—a Christian humanitarian resettlement organization—he introduces refugee and asylum-seeking youth to new technologies and STEM skills while training student workers and high school interns to lead activities, including video production and 3D printing. And as part of the university’s prison education program, Quiballo has provided research support and information literacy instruction to incarcerated students in Illinois.
Solano County Library, Fairfield, California
Mychal Threets has become one of the most recognizable librarians on social media with his viral videos of heartwarming library stories. Speaking from Solano County Library to his hundreds of thousands of followers across Instagram and TikTok, he uses his megaphone to share words of encouragement to readers or those struggling with mental health, muses about his love of books, and spreads awareness about the positive impact of libraries on their communities. Off camera, Threets has been instrumental in promoting mental health best practices, helping install mental health kiosks in the library and its branches that connect patrons with a variety of mental and emotional health services.
Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana
The city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, draws thousands of visitors each year thanks to the genealogy expertise of Allen County Public Library’s Curt Witcher. His decades of work in African American and Jewish genealogy, Native American research, and more have helped cultivate one of the largest genealogy collections in the country and positioned it as an international destination for researchers. Witcher has supported the founding of other local genealogy societies, forged partnerships with FamilySearch and the Internet Archive to make public domain portions of the center’s collection accessible online, and collaborated with an Indiana Tech professor to build a literature and genealogy course.
Since the award’s inception in 2008, library users have shared more than 24,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to promote literacy, expand access to technology, and support diversity and inclusion in their communities. Information regarding previous award recipients can be found on the I Love My Librarian website.
Carnegie Corporation of New York generously sponsors the I Love My Librarian Award, with additional support from The New York Public Library. The award is administered by ALA.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.