For immediate release | October 27, 2016

Bayci, Halpern, Ibacache and Tucker receive Penguin Random House Young Readers Group Award

CHICAGO — The Association for Library Service to Children has awarded the 2017 Penguin Random House Young Readers Group Award to Emily Bayci, Naperville (Illinois) Public Library; Katy Halpern, Lake Hiawatha (New Jersey) Library; Kathia Ibacache, Simi Valley (California) Public Library; Laura Tucker, Homewood (Alabama) Public Library.

The $600 stipend, made possible by an annual gift from Penguin Young Readers Group and Random House Children’s Books, enables up to four children’s librarians to attend their first American Library Association’s Annual Conference as well as attend the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder banquet. Applicants must demonstrate an involvement in ALSC as well as other professional and educational associations. New programming or innovations initiated by the applicants is highly important. Less than ten years of experience of working directly with children in elementary, middle schools or public libraries is required.

Although Bayci has only been a children’s librarian for nearly three years a coworker stated “Emily has lifted the department to a higher level." She has created engaging programs including “unreal” book clubs and “groovy storytimes” at her library, in a western suburb of Chicago. She was a leader in the library’s massive Harry Potter Day program that brought over 10,000 people into the library to enjoy programs such as a wizard training camp, spell training program and magical creatures’ story time. Her book club members, after reading "Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library," were able to participate in a lock-in where they played Lemoncello-esque games and had their own Library Olympics.

For creating a sensory story time program to provide children with special needs the opportunity for monthly field trip to the Lake Hiawatha Library Halpern won the 2013 Best Practices in Early Literacy Award from the New Jersey State Library. She also increased both circulation and attendance with her Music & Movement Storytimes, Preschool Math Programs and Book Bundle project. She works with the Morris (New Jersey) Area Youth Services committee with a number of programs, including Best Books for Children and a Preschool Workshop for teachers.

High performing, exuberant and successful is how Ibacache is described as she celebrates her fifth year as a children’s librarian, serving the patrons of the Simi Valley Public Library. Using her musical background she created a recorder class to teach thirty children ages 6-12 about reading and playing music. She has also created Spanish language classes, Yoga storytimes and a Get Ready for School Storytime which serves 54 preschool age children and their caregivers.

Serving Homewood, Alabama and surrounding communities, Tucker has created programming for children of all ages from Move and Groove movement storytime to afterschool programs such as the STEMologist Club and Kids in the Kitchen.

She goes out into the community to reach the children who can not get to the library by working with the schools through their EL summer reading and going to their after school programs. She is currently working with the organization Kulture City to have the children’s department become Sensory Friendly certified.

“The future is bright in the field of children’s librarianship”, says Jennifer Mae Smith, grant administration chair, “as is clearly illustrated by the creativity and hard work shown by the winners. They will all benefit from attending their first ALA Annual Conference and I am sure they will head back home full of ideas and inspiration.”

"Penguin Random House children's divisions' partnership with ALSC is a long tradition, one that we value very much. We are always looking for new ways to support youth librarianship and innovation in the field," says Carmela Iaria, executive director of school and library marketing, Penguin Young Readers.

"We know that attending the ALA Annual Conference is not always possible due to budgets, so it is our pleasure to make it possible for four hardworking, dedicated librarians who want to learn, network, and celebrate their profession. We look forward to meeting and hosting all of the winners at the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder banquet in Chicago," adds Adrienne Waintraub, executive director of school and library marketing, Random House Children's Books.

ALSC, a division of the ALA, is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit ALSC’s website at

Members of the 2017 ALSC Grant Administration Committee include: Jennifer Mae Smith, chair, Suffern (New York) Free Library; Robert Bittner, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada; Patricia Finnerty, Pioneer Library System, Canandaigua, New York; Eileen Makoff, PS 90 Edna Cohen School, Brooklyn, New York; Penny Markey, County of Los Angeles Public Library; Valerie McCurdy, Broward County Libraries, Weston, Florida; Amy E. Sears, Teaneck (New Jersey) Public Library; Gwen Vanderhage, Brodart, Williamsport, Pennsylvania; Bethany Vangrin, Harford County Public Library, Maryland.


Courtney Jones

Awards Coordinator

American Library Association