Do you know about the I Love My Librarian! Award? In many cases, awards and scholarships are decided by other librarians or library workers. In this case, I Love My Librarian! allows library users to recognize their favorite librarians. I Love My Librarian! has been around since 2008 and is sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the New York Public Library.
Each year, ten librarians receive a $5,000 cash award and a $750 for their library in recognition of outstanding service to their communities. They also receive a full registration to the American Library Association’s upcoming LibLearnX Experience (formerly Midwinter). Public, school, college, community college, and university librarians all qualify for this award. Outstanding service includes upholding our profession’s core value of intellectual freedom.
This year there was no one explicitly nominated for intellectual freedom, however I am of the opinion that racism in information can be a form of censorship. Racism in publishing and academia leads to select voices being systemically silenced. The fight for social justice and the fight for intellectual freedom are not as separate. I would like to highlight a 2021 winner who was nominated for social justice (and more!). The award has been given to librarians specifically for intellectual freedom before though too.
Naomi Bishop is a librarian at the University of Arizona at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. She was nominated for a myriad of reasons and one of them is for speaking out about implicit racism in health science literature. Her voice changed the university’s curriculum for the better. Bishop also promotes Indigenious children’s literature and is a member of the American Indian Youth Literature awards committee for Indigenous authors and illustrators. This type of work is important so that all voices may be recognized in our industry rather than the Laura Ingalls Wilder syndrome of the past.
I would also like to highlight a past winner. Back in 2015, Courtney Kincaid received the I Love My Librarian! award for inspiring a community coalition to fight for the freedom to read. Kincaid is the Director of the Hood County Library in Texas. She defended two children’s books for twenty-one weeks both in the library and in court. The two books were My Princess Boy and This Day in June. She also ended up defending challenges to the library’s Freedom to Read policy and Library Bill of Rights. Multiple community members nominated her for the award, which can be viewed here.
You can see Naomi Bishop and the rest of the 2021 winners at the LibLearnX Experience award ceremony. Registration information for that will be announced in Fall 2021. There are also nine other outstanding librarians to learn about and they come from all sorts of backgrounds. Librarians during the coronavirus pandemic have been working harder than ever and we deserve some love.
That being said, nominations for the 2022 Award are open until Monday, September 27, 2021. If you can think of any loveable librarians fighting for intellectual freedom, or being otherwise awesome, be sure to nominate them! The nomination form can be found here. Not only are you showing love to your favorite librarian but also to the library itself. Multiple nominations are encouraged to submit together as a group.
Holly Eberle is the Teen Programming and Outreach Librarian at the Algonquin Area Public Library District in Illinois. She received her MLIS from the University of Illinois in December 2015. In addition to intellectual freedom, she is also passionate about the opioid epidemic and getting Narcan inside every public library.