Arlington Heights librarian receives I Love My Librarian Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 12/10/2019


Lindsey Simon

Content Strategy Manager

Communications and Marketing Office

Maria Papanastassiou recognized with prestigious national public service honor 

CHICAGO – Maria Papanastassiou, Kids’ World assistant manager at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, is a winner of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award. Recognized for her leadership in transforming lives through access to education, she is one of only 10 librarians in the country to receive this national honor.

Through her efforts, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library is at the forefront of serving children who are differently abled. Papanastassiou’s work, passion and dedication has helped families with diverse needs find a home at the library. Some of her innovations have included spreading out a picnic blanket with pretend food to foster imaginative play, setting up a circus tent for children needing a low-sensory environment and providing insta-snow to facilitate sensory exploration.

Patrons like Manju Mathai and her son Leo, a 4-year-old who receives therapy services, can enjoy such programs as “Caregivers, Coffee and Play,” a program described by patrons as “life-changing” that links therapists and caregivers in an informal setting.

Another successful program is the Developmental Playgroup, which serves children with visible needs such as Down syndrome and cerebral palsy and those with invisible needs, including language delays, as well as their siblings.
Papanastassiou is also the key architect for an innovative partnership between the library and C.I.T.Y. (Children in Therapy and You) of Support, a nonprofit, serving children in therapy.

In addition to her work with the library, she has acted as a mentor through the Association for Library Service to Children Mentoring Program. Her collaboration with a community college librarian in Des Moines, Iowa, resulted in the Arlington Heights library’s first IEP Binder Making and Lego Party.

The American Library Association (ALA) receives I Love My Librarian Award nominations from the general public that showcase the lasting contributions of dynamic librarians working in public, school, college, community college and university libraries. This year library users nationwide submitted 1,974 detailing how their favorite librarians have gone above and beyond to improve community members’ lives.

Since the award’s inception in 2008, ALA has selected up to 10 librarians from a pool of hundreds of nominations. This year’s award winners will each receive a $5,000 cash prize, a plaque and a travel stipend to attend the I Love My Librarian Award ceremony in Philadelphia on Jan. 25, 2020, at 3 p.m. during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits. The event will be streamed via Facebook Live at

Over the last decade, library supporters have shared more than 19,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to connect them to information, educational opportunities and critical technology. Information regarding previous award winners, can be found on the I Love My Librarian website at

Carnegie Corporation of New York generously sponsors the I Love My Librarian Award. The New York Public Library and the New York Times are award co-sponsors. The ALA administers the award through ALA’s Communications and Marketing Office, which promotes the value of libraries and librarians. 

About Carnegie Corporation of New York
Carnegie Corporation of New York was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation's work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.

About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves nearly 17 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association 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, the 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