Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Times and the American Library Association announce I Love My Librarian Award recipients


Ten librarians from various types of libraries joined the company of a select few as recipients of the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award today. 2013 recipients were selected for their dedicated public service and the valuable role they play in our nation’s communities in transforming lives through education. Only 60 librarians nationwide have won the I Love My Librarian Award since its inception in 2008.

There are 166,305 certified librarians in the United States  who, along with more than 200,000 dedicated library workers, offer services to the elderly, job-seekers, small business owners, families, students and others.

As part of the nominating process, more than 1,100 library patrons submitted detailed stories regarding how their librarian had an impact on their communities and lives. The nominations detailed how local librarians provided life-changing resources for multicultural communities and new Americans, created fun and educational safe havens for youth, and strived to preserve local history.

Patrons nominated librarians working in public, school, college, community college and university libraries.

This year’s I Love My Librarian Award recipients are:

Julia Allegrini
Covington (Ky.) Branch of the Kenton County Public Library

Dr. Shahla Bahavar
University of Southern California Libraries
Los Angeles

Holly Camino
Buckeye Library, Medina (Ohio) County District Library

Kathy Meulen Ellison
Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School
Bainbridge Island, Wash.

Harold M. Forbes
West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries
Morgantown, W. Va.

Caroline “Xiaofang” Han
Cleveland Public Library

Jennifer J. Jamison
Atlantic City (N.J.) High School

Julie Kane
Sweet Briar (Va.) College

Molly Ledermann
Missoula (Mont.) Public Library

Charlotte Carr Vlasis
Chattanooga (Tenn.) School for the Liberal Arts

Each recipient receives a $5,000 award at a ceremony and reception in New York City, hosted by The New York Times.

For more information regarding 2013 I Love My Librarian recipients please visit


NBC Connecticut puts the spotlight on technology in school libraries

Three-thousand inspired school librarians, educators, exhibitors and guests left the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) 16th National Conference & Exhibition in Hartford, Conn. ready to “rise to the challenge” of the profession. The largest conference dedicated solely to the needs of school librarians, AASL13 featured preconference workshops, school and educational tours, more than 140 top-quality continuing education programs, author events and more than 160 exhibiting companies.“

During the conference, local media covered the event, calling attention to the value of school librarians, especially during an age of proliferating technology.

Of particular note was a sequence on NBC Connecticut featuring Gail Dickinson, AASL president. During the interview with NBC Connecticut News Today Host Kerri-Lee Mayland, Dickinson discussed the vital role school librarians play in the age of Google.

“In an era filled with instant access to information, school librarians help students make sense of the world,” Dickinson said.

The interview can be seen below.


Hartford Courant opinion piece urges support for school libraries


As the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), prepares to hold its 16th National Conference & Exhibition, themed “Rising to the Challenge,” Nov. 14-17 in Hartford, Conn., a strong opinion piece has appeared in the Hartford Courant urging the support of school libraries.

The newspaper ran a portion of the piece, co-authored by AASL President Gail Dickinson (right) and Mary Ellen Minichiello, the president of the Connecticut Association of School Librarians and a library media specialist at Calf Pen Meadow Elementary School in Milford.


Here is the entire piece:

Hartford school libraries deserve our support

By Gail Dickinson and Mary Ellen Minichiello

As part of the 1996 court case, Sheff vs. O’Neill, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the State of Connecticut must provide equal education to all students. Yet, in 2013, only a minority of Hartford’s nearly 26,000 students have access to one of the most valuable resources a school can offer – a certified school librarian in a strong school library program.

School libraries are places of endless opportunity. They provide literacy resources that empower students to better their lives through education. Since 1965, more than 60 education and library studies have produced clear evidence that school library programs staffed by qualified school librarians have a positive impact on college and career readiness.

More than 37,000 Hartford community members live in poverty and due to lack of transportation and work schedules many are not able to take their children to local public libraries. In many cases school libraries are the only point of access youth have to technology and information resources. During a school library open house, a local school librarian shared a story about a student who pulled her aside to thank her. It was the first time the student had visited a library and had access to a computer, the Internet and books. “This is a nice place, and I can’t believe it’s all for me,” said the student.

More than just access to library resources, students should have the expertise of a certified school librarian who can help them make sense of the vast amounts of information available digitally and in print. Too often students lack the ability to analyze the information found online and are left guessing what Web content to trust.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Online Survey of Teachers, although the Internet has opened up a vast world of information for today’s students, their digital literacy skills have yet to catch up. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed stated that students lack the ability to assess the quality and accuracy of information they find online. Another 33 percent reported that students lacked the ability to recognize bias in online content.

As schools are adopting more technologies to meet Common Core State Standards, many administrators looking to cut corners hold a false assumption that search engines, Wikipedia and social media are adequate substitutions for the research expertise and the guidance of  a school librarian.

This assumption couldn’t be any further from the truth. More than 30 million students a week rely on the expertise of school librarians to navigate a vast landscape of virtual content, and the efforts of librarians to educate students are recognized by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which recognizes them as teachers whose instruction can be measured to meet standards for professional teaching excellence.

We can’t forget how teachers look to librarians to assist with the development of curriculum. From book selections to addressing advancements in technologies and information gathering, many educators look to school librarians to assist with keeping pace with the academic needs of 21st century students.

A commitment to school library service is evident in several Hartford magnet schools. Students who are selected to attend magnet schools have a greater opportunity to access strong school library programs such as at the Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker. In addition to providing students with access to books and online resources, the librarian teaches digital literacy skills linked to environmental sciences themes by partnering with resident staff scientists.  The library fosters a sense of community and is central to a variety of educational activities for students and their teachers.  The school’s librarian works with students to master essential computer skills and research skills.  For example, students are currently researching plants in the campus greenhouse as part of a library skills lesson.

As the Hartford School District continues to comply with Sheff vs. O’Neill and works to level the educational playing field, it is our hope that administrators consider the valuable role school library programs and librarians play in the academic success of students. We ask that when resource assessments are made, the decision to provide students with critical resources that foster 21st century learning skills – a school library staffed by a certified school librarian – is a priority.


Gail Dickinson is the president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Mary Ellen Minichiello is the president of the Connecticut Association of School Librarians and a library media specialist at Calf Pen Meadow Elementary School in Milford, Conn. Both will join more than 4,000 school library professionals at the Connecticut Convention Center for the AASL 16th National Conference & Exhibition, Nov. 14 – 17.  

Doing business with the media and winning

It is important for library spokespeople to know the ins and outs of dealing with the media.

Recently, ALA President-elect Courtney Young received training from one of the best, longtime Chicago radio/television journalist/host Dave Baum.  Baum was joined by journalist and lawyer Anne Gallagher.


The Dave Baum Media Training Group teaches clients How to Do Business with the Media and WIN.

Together, Baum and Gallagher put Young through an intense series of interview situations, during which Young answered a series of questions on a wide variety of issues facing the association. The role-playing included Young participating in a TV sit-down interview, a phone-to-phone print interview and a radio talk-show interview. Each role-playing session was followed by a playback and critique.


Young also received valuable advice about messaging and handling Q-and-As with confidence.

Also in attendance at the session were staff members from the American Library Association’s Public Information Office, Office for Library Advocacy and the Washington Office.

Young said the training served a valuable purpose.

“I think it is really helping me to appreciate even more the association, appreciate our members, appreciate why ALA is so important in our day-to-day work and advocacy efforts,” she said.

In the following video, both Baum and Young talked a little bit more about the training.



For Banned Books Week 2013, ALA President-Elect Courtney Young read from Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.”

Just recently Alabama State Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) called for a ban on the novel, stating that the book should be removed from libraries and the 11th Grade Common Core reading list because he believes the book is “highly objectionable” and has “no value or purpose.” “The Bluest Eye” is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s first novel and is often included in honors and Advanced Placement English classes. Holtzclaw’s demand is just one example of the kinds of book challenges that, if successful, deny students and their parents the right and the freedom to choose books and literature that contain diverse ideas drawn from across the social and political spectrum.

Sept. 22-28 is Banned Books Week


What would you do if you went to the library to check out a book, only to find it wasn’t there? Not because it was already checked out, but because someone else disapproved of its content and had it removed from library shelves? Banned Books Week, Sept. 22 – 28, stresses the importance of preventing censorship and ensuring everyone’s freedom to read any book, no matter how unorthodox or unpopular.

Despite the perception that censorship no longer occurs in the United States, attempts to ban books frequently take place in our schools and libraries.   According to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), there were 464 reported attempts to remove or restrict materials from schools and libraries in 2012 and more than 17,700 attempts since 1990, when the ALA began to record book challenges.

Just recently Alabama State Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) called for a ban on the novel “The Bluest Eye,” stating that the book should be removed from libraries and the 11th Grade Common Core reading list because he believes the book is “highly objectionable” and has “no value or purpose.” “The Bluest Eye” is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s first novel and is often included in honors and Advanced Placement English classes.  Holtzclaw’s demand is just one example of the kinds of book challenges that, if successful, deny students and their parents the right and the freedom to choose books and literature that contain diverse ideas drawn from across the social and political spectrum.

“The ability to read, speak, think and express ourselves freely is a fundamental freedom that sustains and upholds  our democratic society,” said ALA President Barbara Stripling. “Banned Books Week serves as an opportunity to remind all of us that the freedom to choose books for ourselves and our family is a right, not a privilege.”

Book challenges to school library materials are not the only threat to students’ freedom of inquiry.  Online resources, including legitimate educational websites and academically useful social networking tools, are being blocked and filtered in school libraries. In an effort to raise awareness, the American Association of School Libraries (AASL), a division of the ALA, has designated one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day – Wednesday,  Sept. 25 – and is asking school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how excessive filtering affects student achievement.

Banned Books Week 2013 has been celebrating the freedom to read for more than 30 years.  Libraries and bookstores will observe Banned Books Week by hosting special events and exhibits on the power of literature and the harms of censorship.  ALA, along with Banned Books Week co-sponsors, will host one of those events, a Virtual Read Out on YouTube [] where participants will read from their favorite banned books. Past participants have included highly acclaimed and/or frequently challenged authors such as Judy Blume, Chris Crutcher, Whoopi Goldberg, Lauren Myracle and many others.

For the first time this year, Twitter parties will help promote the message of Banned Books Week.  A party will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern time on Monday, Sept. 23, with a second party scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 25, from noon to 2 p.m. Eastern time.  Supporters are urged to tweet using the hashtag #bannedbooksweek. More information about the Twitter parties is available on the Banned Books Week website,

Also, many bookstores, schools and libraries celebrating Banned Books Week will showcase selections from the ALA OIF’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2012. The list is released each spring and provides a snapshot of book removal attempts in the U.S. The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2012 reflects a range of themes and consists of the following titles:

1) Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group

2) “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie.
Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

3) “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group

4) “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

5) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group

6) “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

7) “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

8) Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence

9) “The Glass Castle,” by Jeanette Walls
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

10) “Beloved,” by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores.  It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. In 2011, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Freedom to Read Foundation, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, and PEN American Center also signed on as sponsors.

ALA’s work opposing censorship takes place not just during Banned Books Week, but throughout the year. OIF tracks hundreds of challenges to books and other materials in libraries and classrooms across the country.  OIF provides support to librarians, teachers and community members looking to keep books on the shelves.  Those wishing to support Banned Books Week and libraries can do so by texting ALABBW to 41518 to provide a $10 tax-deductible donation.

For more information on Banned Books Week, book challenges and censorship, please visit the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books Web site at, or