Volunteer pushes to nominate librarians for award

This article was originally published for Appen Media Group.

July 12, 2017

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Community members will have a chance to show their appreciation for librarians by nominating them for the national “I Love My Librarian” Award.

I Love Libraries, an American Library Association initiative that strives to inform the public about American libraries, allows any person to nominate a school, public or higher education librarian for recognition.

Julie Todaro, the ALA’s immediate past president and 2017 award committee chair, said the award was originally begun by the New York Times in 2001. The ALA came on board in 2008, and eventually took ownership of the award.

Edgar Ortiz, a member of Friends of the Library at Forsyth County Public Libraries, is working to have members of the community nominate Forsyth County librarians for the award. Ortiz said he wants to spread the word about the award and recognize the work done by public librarians.

“I, in particular, have been most impressed by the quality of service, community programs, educational fairs, conferences and many other programs too numerous to mention, that are offered to all of us in our communities by the Sharon Forks Public Library and all branches of the Forsyth Public Library system in general,” Ortiz said.

From what Ortiz has seen, the community is not familiar with the I Love My Librarian award. He said that 9 out of 10 people he talks to say they are unaware of the award’s existence.

Ortiz said that this award presents a special opportunity to recognize the people who do so much for the community and say thanks.

“[It’s important] because of the tremendous service they provide to the community,” Ortiz said.

Because libraries are a central meeting place where children read, authors visit and the community can hold meetings, Ortiz said librarians and libraries are central to the community. Ortiz also said that especially in times when budgets are squeezed, librarians are targets for budget cuts.

“We often take [libraries] for granted,” Ortiz said.

Ten librarians are chosen for the award each year, and they each receive a plaque, $5,000 cash award and a trip to New York City to attend the awards ceremony, hosted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Last year, Gwinnett Technical College and Gwinnett County public librarian Elissa Checov received the award.

Todaro said she thinks local communities can benefit from awarding librarians, the award is important because of the often-unrecognized work librarians do.

“I think we have a lot of unsung people who are heroes in communities,” Todaro said. “[The award] thanks you in a way that you’ve never been thanked before.”

Todaro also said the award gives unique perspectives on new practices award-winning librarians initiate. Last year’s winner, Lia Hillman, began a nutrition-education program in her library.

To nominate a librarian, people must fill out a form involving both basic information about the nominee as well as a short questionnaire about the librarian’s impact on the community. I Love Libraries also provides promotional tools such as sample press releases, sample tweets, flyers and other means of spreading the word, encouraging people to use the hashtags #librarian and #ILoveMyLibrarianAward.

To nominate a librarian or for more information on the I Love My Librarian award, visit ilovelibraries.org/lovemylibrarian.

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