Ten librarians from around the country – including two from Connecticut, in New Haven and Groton - were honored this month with this year’s I Love My Librarian Award for their exceptional public service to the community and ongoing commitment to transforming lives through education and lifelong learning. The winning librarians were selected from a pool of more than 1,300 nominations submitted by library patrons nationwide who use public, school, college, community college or university libraries. The nominations detailed stories about how their favorite librarians helped improve the quality of life in their communities. The last time Connecticut had a winner was in 2012. There were two winners from the state in 2012 and in 2011.
The nation’s more than 166,000 certified librarians “continue to play a vital role in assisting and inspiring all who seek information and access to technologies,” according to officials. “The I Love My Librarian Award winners are living examples of how library professionals are expanding beyond their traditional functions and providing more opportunities for community engagement and delivering new services that connect closely with patrons’ needs.”
The Connecticut recipients of the national recognition are:
- Diane Brown, New Haven (Connecticut) Free Public Library, Stetson Branch
- Elizabeth G. Rumery, Avery Point Campus Library, University of Connecticut, Groton
Diane Brown is branch manager of the New Haven Free Public Library’s Stetson Branch. Known as the “urban librarian” to her patrons, Brown develops valuable programs and services to meet the needs of the underserved residents in a community with high rates of poverty, crime and low literacy levels. Under Brown’s leadership, the library has been transformed into a true community center. She brings residents together by hosting cultural and educational events such as an international “pop up” festival, art exhibits, lectures and health fairs, according to officials. She has been praised for facilitating an afterschool tutoring program for K-8 students and providing opportunities for children and their families to spend time together by establishing history and game nights.
“It is gratifying to have the I Love My Librarian Award bring much deserved recognition to librarians. As libraries transform so do librarians to support individual opportunity and community progress,” said Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association. “Every day librarians connect library users with the books, information and critical technology resources they need to thrive in the digital age.”
Each winning librarian will receive a $5,000 prize at an award ceremony and reception held in New York City, hosted by the philanthropic foundation Carnegie Corporation of New York, which sponsors the award. The New York Public Library and The New York Times are co-sponsors of the award, which is administered by the American Library Association.
Elizabeth G. Rumery, library director for the Avery Point Campus Library at the University of Connecticut in Groton, has “transformed the library into a welcoming and dynamic place for students by modernizing the facility to meet the needs of 21st century learners.” Officials indicate that she worked with contractors and school administrators on renovating the library, with improvements including new media rooms and collaborative study spaces for students and faculty.
Rumery has also expanded services to create a safe haven for students, establishing a place in the library where anyone can talk with her about concerns related to GLBTQ, depression or other personal issues. She finds the appropriate help and resources they may need. She also serves as an advisor for the student gay/straight ALLIANCE club at the campus.
The other recipients in 2015 are librarians in Texas, California, Alaska, North Carolina, Missouri, Alabama and Mississippi. In addition to Connecticut, there were two recipients from Texas.
The award recipients include a librarian who fought censorship when residents attempted to ban and remove books from the shelves, a librarian who works with incarcerated youth at a school within a juvenile hall, a librarian who fostered a deeper understanding of the Muslim world by facilitating a campus exhibit and lecture and a librarian whose efforts helped raise student reading scores significantly at an underserved elementary school.
The librarians join “an esteemed group of award recipients who are recognized as being catalysts for powerful individual and community change.” Only 80 librarians have received the national award since its inception in 2008, including six from Connecticut. In 2012, the recipients were Rachel Hyland, Tunxis Community College Library in Farmington, and Rae Anne Locke, Saugatuck Elementary "Secret Garden" Library in Westport. The 2011 winners included Jennifer O. Keohane, The Simsbury Public Library and Michelle Luhtala, New Canaan High School Library.
For more information regarding the 2015 I Love My Librarian Award recipients, go to www.ilovelibraries.org/ilovemylibrarian