Toor Scholarship for Strong Public-School Libraries

Sponsored by the Toor Family, in honor of their parents, Jay and Ruth Toor

Monetary Amount: $1,000 travel stipend 

The next award cycle will open September 2024


The Toor Family, in honor of their parents, Jay and Ruth Toor, have established the Toor Scholarships for Strong Public-School Libraries.  As strong school library advocates throughout their life, Jay & Ruth supported the need for state-certified public-school librarians in every school for all learners. The Toor Scholarships will continue Jay & Ruth’s efforts to share advocacy in the creation and implementation of local public awareness/marketing campaigns that promote and position school librarians as necessary resources in the community. Support is available on a competitive basis to public school librarians—located in the United States and led by a certified school librarian— who have created and implemented a local public awareness/marketing campaign that promotes and positions their school library as a necessary resource in the community, tying in the theme “Strong School Libraries."  Each scholarship recipient will receive a $1,000 travel stipend to attend the biennial AASL National Conference and will participate in a concurrent session panel to present and discuss their campaign with attendees.  Additional promotion of campaigns will include opportunities to publish articles and host webinars on AASL’s various platforms.


  • All applicants (individual or institution) must be current members of ALA and AASL at the time the application is submitted.
  • The public school library must be located in the United States.
  • The applicant must be a state-certified school librarian.
  • Unsuccessful applications may reapply each year, as long as they are received by the application deadline.
  • Institutions represented by The Ruth Toor Grant for Strong Public-School Libraries jury can be eligible to apply, but committee members must recuse themselves from the discussion, vote, or decline the nomination if they have a conflict of interest. 


The criteria include a two-page narrative that outlines the project, how the public school librarian increased public awareness, and how attending the AASL National Conference will assist in advancing their work as school librarians. The grant provides funding support on a competitive basis to certified public school librarians—located in the United States — who have created and implemented a local public awareness/marketing campaign that promotes and positions their school library as a necessary resource in the community, tying in the theme “Strong School Libraries."

The following documentation is required in addition to the two-page narrative:

  • Timeline of project/outline of timing for replication planning by other school librarians
  • Reach of the project- how many individuals were ‘touched’ by the campaign/project
  • Key staff involved, including names and roles

The scholarship recipient must agree to deliver a presentation of their project at AASL’s National Conference and submit a minimum of one of the following professional development items for those school librarians not in attendance at the conference:

  • Submit an article for consideration to Knowledge Quest, AASL’s official journal.
  • Present a webinar, which will be recorded and archived in AASL’s eLearning.
  • Submit a blog post for Knowledge Quest website.

Download Criteria & Rating Sheet

Download Copy of Application


Allison Cline email icon
Deputy Executive Director


Year Recipient School
2023 Karen Bentall, Director, Literacy and Libraries, Room to Read Oakridge Elementary School, Arlington, Virginia
  "We are at a pivotal moment in education. The harm that the pandemic unleashed on children's development is increasingly being understood. The potential harm that unrestricted technological developments like AI might unleash on humanity is being debated. In addition, stubborn illiteracy rates, mental health crises, and book banning can feel paralyzingly overwhelming. School librarians are in a powerful position to act. Specifically, story times, book clubs, and community events can build upon humanity’s age-old tradition of passing on wisdom and human connection in a way that gives our children the dispositions, communication, and information literacy skills they need in a complex, confusing and changing world. I am grateful to the Toor Family for their advocacy of strong school libraries. After 16 years as a Virginia certified school librarian, I joined nonprofit Room to Read where we establish school libraries as part of our work to end to global illiteracy."
2023 Harry Robert Brake Jr., Library Media Specialist Woodridge High School, Greenwood, Delaware
  "Librarianship and librarians share the "shelf" of opportunity with many titles that are still unfamiliar to many. Advocacy, safe havens, opportunity, discovery, literacy, freedom, and so many more titles. Educating and involving all stakeholders in what magic occurs between the stacks of all libraries, in all communities is the title page of learning. Analogies of the discoveries that are possible in libraries need to be available at any time, to everyone, by librarians."
2023 Molly Dettmann, Teacher Librarian Norman Public Schools/Norman North High School, Norman, Oklahoma
  "It is an honor to win this so that I can learn from my colleagues from all over at the AASL National Conference. I have worked to use my library's social media as an advocacy tool to raise awareness about the work I do as a school librarian, and I'm excited to share the plans and ideas that others can use in their own school library promotion."
2023 Sheila Michaels, Library Media Specialist Nixa Public Schools, Nixa, Missouri
  "I am so grateful to be a recipient of the Toor Scholarship to attend the AASL Annual Conference. The best PD comes from fellow professionals, and this conference is the premier event to learn from my peers. Orchestrating a large community reading program involves a huge amount of planning and problem-solving. It is my hope that sharing my BookBag program with others will inspire them to undertake similar initiatives. It is also my hope to collaborate with others who can offer ideas to make the program even more effective."
2023 Martha Pangburn, Teacher Librarians Norman Public Schools, Norman, Oklahoma
  "I am honored to receive the Toor Scholarship for Strong Public-School Libraries. The annual Norman High School Creativity and Learning Showcase celebrates the amazing teaching and learning happening at our school, with the Library at the center, while inviting our community to experience it firsthand. I’m thrilled to share our work with others, while also having the opportunity to learn from and connect with colleagues around the country at the AASL National Conference."
2023 Danielle Schwessinger, Media Specialist Elmer Wolfe Elementary, Union Bridge, Maryland
  "I am passionately invested in continuing on the path that proves that school libraries are the heart of the school and believe there is no better way to do that than by continuing to learn and grow as a professional. My school deserves an invested and enthusiastic librarian and I am willing to do whatever it takes to show them that a strong school library can have an immense impact on the lives of children."
2023 Laura Silver, School Library Media Specialist PS 90: The Magnet School for Environmental Studies and Community Wellness, Brooklyn, New York
2023 Kristen Thrower, School Librarian Meadowbrook High School, North Chesterfield, Virginia
  "I am honored to receive the Toor Scholarship for Strong Public-School Libraries. The Meadowbrook High School Nonprofit Fair was a collaborative effort between local nonprofits and classroom teachers and facilitated by myself, the school librarian. I strive to help students engage in active learning and make real-world connections with their assignments. This annual event has expanded in scope to include volunteer, internship and employment opportunities with the organizations that participated."