Three public librarians recognized with 'I Love My Librarian' Awards

For Immediate Release
Wed, 12/05/2018


Laurence Deutsch

Manager, Communications

Public Library Association (PLA)

CHICAGO – Three outstanding public librarians, two of whom are Public Library Association (PLA) members, are 2018 'I Love My Librarian' Award winners. This award encourages library users to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarians who go above and beyond traditional library service. Up to ten librarians are selected annually for this prestigious honor: each one receives a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and a travel stipend to attend the awards ceremony and reception in New York City, hosted by the award's co-sponsors Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Public Library, and The New York Times. This year, four academic librarians, three public librarians and three school librarians were chosen from more than 1,000 total nominations. The recipients from public libraries are listed are:

Stephanie Hartwell-Mandella, Head of Youth Services, Katonah (N.Y.) Village Library 

Stephanie Hartwell-Mandella has served as the head of youth services at Katonah Village Library since 2011. She is committed to empowering the community to celebrate its differences by bringing patrons together in a safe, welcoming space to address such divisive issues as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical abilities, and religious and political beliefs.

“This award means the world to me because it comes directly from the words of the community. It makes me feel like they really understand what I am trying to do,” Hartwell-Mandella says. “My favorite thing about being a librarian is making connections, whether I am helping a child who is a reluctant reader, helping someone find services they need, or providing programming to support marginalized members of the community.” 

Learn more about Stephanie.

Paula Kelly, Director, Whitehall Public Library (Pittsburgh, Penn.)

PLA member Paula Kelly is an award-winning librarian who is committed to inclusion, partnerships, and collaboration. She is a recognized leader throughout her county’s consortium of libraries and readily shares her education, programming, and advocacy strategies with peers. She is known for her support of programs that make the library immigrant-friendly and accessible to diverse populations, including Pittsburgh’s substantial population of Bhutanese refugees and those with special needs. As a volunteer literacy tutor, Kelly has helped enhance literacy rates within local refugee communities and has fostered understanding by organizing multicultural potluck dinners.

“Winning this award is a tremendous personal honor and a reflection of the amazing support that I receive from my staff and board,” Kelly says. “Public service is rewarding, and nothing is more rewarding than being a librarian.”

Learn more about Paula.

Lindsey Tomsu, Teen/Young Adult Librarian, Algonquin (Ill.) Area Public Library District

PLA member Lindsey Tomsu is being recognized for her work at Algonquin (Ill.) Area Public Library District and La Vista (Neb.) Public Library. She was nominated by students from both libraries’ teen advisory boards who commended Tomsu’s efforts to make teens’ voices heard. She has provided a welcoming atmosphere for her patrons, serving as a friend, mentor, and older sister. Tomsu has helped bring to life programs ranging from the unusual (Bacon Club and Pool Noodle Kendo Club) to the technological (Media Club and the teen makerspace). Among the community programs she developed was the BUILD Collective, a multipurpose program that allows teens and tweens to play with educational toys that foster their imagination and creativity.

“I’ve spent years advocating for my teens—them working together to nominate me is one way that they can give back and advocate for me in return,” Tomsu says. “Libraries are in a unique position to be a place of common ground for teens.”

Learn more about Lindsey.

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About PLA
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext.5PLA, or