Caroline Kennedy tells librarians their work is “truly life-changing” at I Love My Librarian Award ceremony
For Immediate Release
CHICAGO - Last week, Caroline Kennedy, in the keynote speech at the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award ceremony in New York City, saluted librarians for their courage, dedication and vision.
The event, which was part of the Carnegie Corporation’s Centennial Celebration, honored 10 librarians who were recognized for service to their communities, schools and campuses. More than 1,700 library patrons nationwide nominated a librarian.
The program is administered by American Library Association’s (ALA) Campaign for America’s Libraries.
During her remarks, which can be read in full at atyourlibrary.org, Kennedy singled out for praise the president of the Carnegie Corporation, Vartan Gregorian, “whose passion for libraries and learning is unparalleled and contagious. You are a worthy heir to Andrew Carnegie and have been a wonderful friend to my mother, and my uncle Teddy.”
She also praised Barbara Stripling, the director of library services at the New York City Department of Education.
She said, “Barbara has transformed school libraries throughout this city. She is a generous friend, an inspirational leader and has made a real difference in the lives of the 1.1 million students in NYC public schools.”
Kennedy said the nominations received across the country show the critical role libraries play in shaping our democracy.
She said, “Librarians are once again on the front lines of a battle that will shape the future of our country. It is a battle that is fought out of view and the heroes are people who didn’t seek a career of confrontation, but who live lives of principle and meaning – understanding that the gift of knowledge is the greatest gift we can give to each other.”
She added that libraries are a bastion of civil liberties in times of great political turmoil, but in calmer times are also an integral part of our daily lives.
Kennedy also said, “None of these efforts would have been possible without dedicated, committed and visionary librarians. Professionals who are excited about their changing role in a changing world - who are dedicated to serving others, who respect scholarship, and who understand that you are our guides on a life long journey of intellectual collaboration and collaborative composition. Your work is truly life changing,” she said.
“One of the most exciting rituals of childhood is getting your first library card, and last year, one-third of all Americans over the age of 15, or 77 million people, used a public library,” she said.
She also warned that libraries are under siege from an insidious adversary – indifference and lack of funds.
“New York, one of the more generous states, allocates only $6.25 per student for library books, not enough to buy even one book and Congress allocated ZERO to the Improving Literacy through School Libraries Office. When times are tough, access to knowledge is seen as a luxury not a necessity, though in a difficult economic climate, we know that people need and use libraries more than ever,” she said.
She stressed the value of libraries as community centers, where adolescents can explore difficult social and emotional issues in a safe space, and hubs of learning, where the unemployed receive job training and new immigrants learn English.
Kennedy mentioned her first-hand knowledge of libraries through her work with the New York City public schools and also the Kennedy Library in Boston, which preserves the archival record of the presidency of her father, John F. Kennedy.
The award is a collaborative program of Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Times and the American Library Association.
Nominations were open to librarians working in public, school, college, community college and university libraries. Forty librarians nationwide have won the I Love My Librarian award since 2008. More information about the award recipients is available at Atyourlibrary.org.
Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to do “real and permanent good in this world.”
The New York Times Company, a leading media company with 2010 revenues of $2.4 billion, includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, 15 other daily newspapers and more than 50 websites, including NYTimes.com, BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com and About.com. The Company’s core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment.
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 60,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.