I Love My Librarian

I Love My Librarian winner Olga Cardenas: Breaking Barriers to Literacy

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At the Stanislaus County Library in Modesto (CA), Olga Cardenas makes it her mission to deliver literacy programs, regardless of language or economic barriers.

It is why she received a 2016 I Love My Librarian Award.  Blessed with the ability to communicate in English and Spanish, she reaches families in Stanislaus County burdened with extreme poverty and facing cultural barriers.  Cardenas, who was nominated by the Friends of the Modesto Library,  holds the key these families need to unlock the potential for unlimited opportunities for their children.

As the Youth Services Outreach Librarian, she reaches out to parents in their communities, their workplaces and their houses of worship. Her outreach efforts have also led her to forge partnerships between the library and businesses, service organizations and schools.

I Love My Librarian Award Winner Sherri Ginsberg: Creating a Sanctuary

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As the librarian at Hillsides Education Center, an accredited therapeutic residential and day school offering individualized education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade in Pasadena, California, Sherri Ginsberg offers library services to children who have social-emotional, learning, and behavioral challenges.

She also offers library services for children who live in the Residential Treatment Services program located on the same campus, which serves children in the foster care system or who are unable to live at home for other reasons. 

Her efforts to turn the little-used library into a haven for children who have been abused or suffered traumas and losses have justly earned her recognition as one of the recipients of the 2016 I Love My Librarian award.  Ginsberg’s nominator, Alison Bell,  said that since Ginsberg’s arrival in 2006, she has transformed a library that was used only sparingly for after-school programs for the children who lived at Hillsides.

I Love My Librarian Award Winner Roosevelt Weeks: Taking the Library to the Community

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Roosevelt Weeks, deputy director of the Houston (Texas) Public Library System (HPL) is one librarian who is willing to go the extra mile.

Rachel Stout, a trainer with the HPL’s Community Engagement Team said Weeks has on many occasions taken time out of his day to drive the Mobile Express when a driver was needed.  That commitment earned him one of the 2016 I Love My Librarian Awards.

She said, “He’s always willing to step in and help out at any level of our organization, and will do just about anything to ensure a successful project or implement a new service.”  My’Tesha Tates, manager of HPL’s Community Engagement Team, who nominated Weeks for the award, said Weeks taught her that libraries are about more than books and walls.  “He has pushed our organization to think outside the box, and made it an indispensable thread in the fabric of Houston,” she said.

For Weeks, community involvement is a high priority. He has partnered with local organizations to spread literacy and the love of reading throughout Houston.  This is shown in his work with the Houston Center for Literacy and the Eastside Village Learning Center. These programs help residents of lower income areas develop the literacy skills they need to enrich their lives.

I Love My Librarian Award Winner Tabatha “Tabby” Farney: Linking Students to Resources

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Tabatha “Tabby” Farney, director of web services and emerging technologies and associate professor, is a treasured resource at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

She so impressed one colleague that when he nominated her for a 2016 I Love My Librarian Award, Donald Klingner called her “the best librarian I’ve worked with in my 42 years as a tenured or tenure-earning professor of public administration at public universities in Indiana, Florida and Colorado since 1974.”  High praise, but definitely earned, as her record as research librarian to the UCCS School of Public Affairs over a six-year period attests.

During that time, she expanded access of scholarly information for faculty, students and staff. Her impact on the MPA (Master of Public Administration) helped it achieve a full seven-year accreditation from an international accrediting body, NASPAA (the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration).  “I know that her support services have contributed directly and in measurable ways to transforming lives – our own, our students, and in the communities we serve,” Klingner said.

I Love My Librarian Winner Andrea Bernard - Going the Extra Mile

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Andrea Bernard will go out of her way to serve her library patrons.  Just ask Stephen Ferguson, her nominator for a 2016 I Love My Librarian Award.  Ferguson said he lives alone on a dirt road in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. After undergoing major spinal surgery, he was housebound for four months.

“Throughout the winter, in all kinds of weather, my librarian, Andrea Bernard, brought me an endless supply of books, driving her personal vehicle after library hours. Because Andrea takes a personal interest in all of her patrons, she knew just what books to bring me.”

I Love My Librarian Award Winner Elissa Checov: Re-Imagining the Library

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Elissa Checov’s vision extends beyond her library at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  That vision is the reason she received one of the 2016 I Love My Librarian awards.

Her nominator for the award, Brian Wren, said Checov rejects the notion that the library is merely “a repository for old books and ideas struggling to keep up with the accessibility of information on the internet.”  She makes sure her library is a magnet for students – a place where they can engage with each other and develop their skills with the latest technology.

One sees the difference when one enters the library. She redesigned the entrance to give the space more of a lounge feel. Students are welcomed into a commons area with comfortable seating and themed displays that encourage them to interact socially and collaborate on projects.

Surveying the library, one is struck by the sight of students diligently working on library computers and laptops and occupying carrels and conference rooms.  Headcounts reveal anywhere from 45 to 75 people occupying the library throughout the day, with the library often filled by 9 a.m.

I Love My Librarian Award Winner Danielle Apfelbaum: Invigorating Campus Life

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Information literacy is a must for today's students.

Librarians like Danielle Apfelbaum, reference and instruction librarian at the Wisser Library at the New York Institute of Technology's Old Westbury campus, play an essential role in connecting them to the information resources they need to achieve academic success.

Gabrielle St. Leger, her nominator for the 2016 I Love My Librarian Award, said, "Danielle has worked to create a more technologically sound library system for our NYIT students and faculty," St. Leger said. "She is always available and looking to add the right resources to make sure our students grow and stretch their understanding and  specialized knowledge."

St. Leger, dean of campus life at the New York Institute of Technology, stressed that Apfelbaum makes sure students are given resources they will actually use, citing her promotion of the citation and reference management tool RefMe. The reference tool (https://www.refme.com/) enables students to scan book or journal barcodes, turn printed text into digital text in order to save quotes and reference web pages, articles, books and videos directly from your browser in their research.

I Love My Librarian Award Winner Lia Kharis Hillman: Cooking Up Something Good at the Library

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Lia Kharis Hillman has turned her library into a moveable feast.

Hillman, fourth floor program manager at the San Francisco Public Library, drew upon her experience as a former chef to cook up a garden and food education program in library branches across the city.

The program, which helps underserved families meet challenges they have in cooking and, as a result, promotes a healthier lifestyle, is one example of why she was one of 10 chosen for the 2016 I Love My Librarian Award.

Carolyn Federman. her nominator for the 2016 I Love My Librarian award, for which she was one of 10 recipients, said, “Lia has started many programs that extend the role of the library to provide social supports for the community, and each of these programs is now an on-going part of library services thanks to her solo effort.”

2015 I Love My Librarian Award Winner Dona Helmer: School Librarian and School Leader

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Dona Helmer is a school librarian who realizes that what happens at her library influences the world beyond it.

Tamara Ramsey, a teacher at College Gate Elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska, who nominated Helmer, school librarian, for the 2015 I Love My Librarian Award, said, “Dona feels that libraries and learning are for life. She works hard to help all our students understand that everything can be enhanced by going to the library for help. The library is larger than just a room.”

Helmer has worked with second-grade teachers on a Farm to School program. The second graders learn how to find recipes and nutritional information on the Internet. They also take field trips to the Alaska Botanical Garden and receive instruction from guests about plants and soil, as well as learn about Alaskan home grown vegetables.

The program also sharpens their cooking skills, with the second-grade chefs receiving a crock pot so they can practice at home with their families.  Ramsey said, “The program is awesome and Dona does the bulk of the work—she finds the grants, organizes the bus, finds the speakers and gets the crockpots and vegetables.”

Ramsey said Helmer is an integral part of the educational team at Golden Gate, saying that one sixth-grade teacher said Helmer is more than the school librarian – “she is a curriculum innovator.”

The Kid-friendly Library: 2015 I Love My Librarian Award Winner Leslie Koch

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At Armstrong Elementary School Eastover, North Carolina, more than 60 percent of the children receive free or reduced price school lunch.  Although poverty is perceived to be a predictor of low academic success, the students at Armstrong, despite high levels of poverty, excel in reading and library use.

A major factor is the school librarian, Leslie Koch, whose work garnered her an I Love My Librarian Award in 2015.  The numbers provide strong testimony to the success of her efforts.

During the 2014-15 school year, among the 400 students, the library circulated more than 32,500 books, an average of more than 81 books per student over the course of the year, or greater than nine books per month per student, according to her nominator for the award, Ardry Adams.

Adams said, “Ms. Koch recognizes the importance of reaching all children, and especially those from impoverished homes. Students who read, excel. Ms. Koch is raising the bar, encouraging each student to rise up, read, and excel in their individual academic endeavors.”

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