Tamara Cox, librarian at Wren High School who was named District One Teacher of the Year, was among ten winners of the prestigious “I Love My Librarian Award”, the American Library Association announced recently.
Recipients were chosen from more than 1,000 nominations from library users nationwide who submitted compelling stories that showcased how their local librarians have profoundly improved lives within their community.
During her tenure, Cox has transformed the school library into a hub of learning through collaboration between students, teachers and families as well as partnerships with local organizations and other schools.
She developed a summer program to promote reading to incoming freshmen. Partnering with the local middle school, she visits students before they arrive at school to get them signed up for new book clubs and check out books. When the students attend high school in the fall, they meet with the teacher facilitator to discuss the books.
Cox worked with the county election commission to bring voting booths into the school for a state book award contest. The activity exposed students to the voting process and she also provided voter registration forms for the school’s older students.
To make learning more engaging, Cox incorporates technology into her work. For instance, to teach students about evaluating online information and fake news, she set up a digital game to see how their skills measured up against others.
Her nominator confirmed Cox has “built a culture of reading throughout the school, faculty and students.”
As a result of Cox’s efforts, the students now look to the library as a place to turn to for help, whether it’s researching sources, getting advice on how to use technology or find school supplies. Students count on Cox and the library to provide guidance.
After hearing she was one of this year’s winners, Cox stated, “It is an honor to serve my students as they progress through high school and prepare for their lives beyond school. I love getting to know my students and being a resource for them and our school faculty and staff. I enjoy creating a library atmosphere that is welcoming and helpful.”
Among this year’s I Love My Librarian Award recipients are an academic librarian who provides students with free access to textbooks, food and toiletries; public librarians who assist new Americans while battling bigotry and cultural invisibility; and a school librarian who drives students who can’t afford transportation to school.
“Our nation’s librarians work tirelessly and selflessly to better lives in their communities,” said American Library Association President Loida Garcia-Febo. “I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to this year’s I Love My Librarian Award recipients. I stand in awe of their contributions to transforming lives through courage, empathy and compassion. Thank you for your noble work and civic mindedness.”
2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the I Love My Librarian Award, which honors librarians who go above and beyond traditional library service. This coveted award was established in 2008 and recognizes outstanding public service that has transformed lives through education and lifelong learning. The ALA has received thousands of nominations over the decade, but only 110 librarians have received this distinguished honor.
On Dec. 4, each winning librarian received a $5,000 prize at an award ceremony and reception in New York City. The ceremony was hosted by award co-sponsors Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Public Library, and The New York Times.
Award recipients include four academic librarians, three public librarians and three school librarians. This year’s winners are:
Ginny Blackson, James E. Brooks Library, Central Washington University;
Joy Bridwell, Stone Child College Library, Box Elder, Montana;
Tamara Cox, Wren High School, Piedmont, South Carolina;
Nancy Daniel, Western Piedmont Community College Library, Morganton, North Carolina;
Jennifer Berg Gaither, Baltimore City College, Baltimore, Maryland;
Terri Gallagher, Community College of Beaver County Library, Monaca, Pennsylvania; Paula Kelly, Whitehall Public Library, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
Stephanie Hartwell-Mandella, Katonah Village Library, Town of Bedford, New York;
Linda Robinson, Mansfield Middle School, Mansfield, Connecticut;
Lindsey Tomsu, Algonquin Area Public Library District, Algonquin, Illinois.
American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.