|2021: Jackie Lam
2020: Kaitlyn Rak
2019: Samantha Sambrato
2018: Jennifer Groth
2017: Jennifer Fratello
2016: Julie Tootell
2015: Emma Hartloff
2014: Elissa Valente
The Scholarship Committee is delighted to announce the winner of this year’s Ann Gibson Scholarship, Jackie Lam. A proud graduate of Smith College and current student in the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College CUNY, Jackie is delighted to be a Children’s Librarian Trainee at Kings Park Public Library, a branch of the Smithtown Library on Long Island.
Jackie heads the children’s programming subcommittee of the Smithtown Library’s newly formed diversity committee, which she helped establish. She also focuses on building accessible and inclusive library collections: in particular, examining depictions of underrepresented groups in picture books. Outside of work, she runs programs for QCLISSA (Queens College Library & Information Studies Student Association) and volunteers at the Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown.
Jennifer comes to the field of librarianship after earning a Master's Degree in Music Education, which has inspired her to help children discover their own talents and interests. She currently works at the library where she grew up (Maxwell Memorial Library) and is working alongside youth services librarians there as well as substituting at local (West Genesee Central School District) elementary school libraries. Jennifer's coursework at the University of Buffalo has provided her with the opportunity to research how libraries can become more diverse and inclusive and foster creativity through technology.
Her passion for libraries, particularly children's services, shined through her application and her supporting statements were glowing. She is a very well deserving recipient!
Jennifer Fratello is pursuing her Masters of Library and Information Science with a concentration in School Librarianship at The University at Buffalo. Jennifer is a NYSED certified teacher in the fields of Early Childhood Education Birth-2nd, Childhood Education 1-6, Students with Disabilities 1-6 and 7-12, and Social Studies 7-12. She has worked as a Special Education teacher in the Florida UFSD, Warwick Valley CSD, Somers SD, White Plains CSD, Eastchester UFSD, and currently works in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. Furthermore, she is currently a substitute librarian assistant in the children’s and youth services department at Finkelstein Memorial Library.
While in this position, Jennifer has demonstrated many qualities that prove she will be a wonderful librarian. She provides reference help to teens, children, and their families in a bustling library setting. She makes sure to spend time with the patrons to help them find just the right book. Jennifer also administers a program called Homework Academy which is in place to help grade school children with their afterschool homework requirements. The library must accommodate anywhere from 30 to 50 children a day, and Jennifer uses her talents as a teacher to help keep things organized and calm, while still helping each student. Outside of work and studies, Jennifer loves to travel and hopes to visit Greece or Scotland on her next trip. She just purchased her first home, and is an avid soccer fan – especially when Arsenal, USA, and Germany are playing! (She even coached soccer for 7 years.)
Jennifer’s goal is to be able to combine her experience from teaching and her passion for books to motivate children, teens, and adults in an age of ever changing technology. She loves technology and what she can do with it when teaching her students, but she also wants to encourage a love of books to all the people she serves.
Julie Tootell is pursuing her Master of Information Studies with a concentration in Library and Information Services/School Library Media Specialist at The University at Albany. In addition to her studies, she is currently a substitute teacher in the Voorheesville and Bethlehem Schools.
Previous library experience includes 9 years of work in a public library in Newmarket, England. While in this position, Julie transformed the children’s department from a dull corner to a vibrant, activity-filled area. She lead singing groups for preschool children, conducted interactive book readings, coordinated a celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee, and actively promoted summer reading for children ages 4 to 11 years throughout local schools. She spent an additional 2 years collaborating with teachers in a village college for students ages 11-16 years.
Outside of work and studies, Julie loves to spend time with her husband and daughter. She has a great passion for storytelling and enjoys traveling and taking photographs. She is a graphic artist and generally describes herself as a creative and crafty person. Her claim to fame is being able to make anything out of a piece of cardboard! Her most ambitious cardboard creation was a 3D, life-sized donkey.
Julie’s goal is to work in an elementary school library to enthuse library users from an early age to grow up to love their libraries. She feels that her studies have prepared her to be a stronger and better-equipped librarian and hopes to continue to offer exciting and innovative library programs upon completion of her degree.
Emma Hartloff is currently pursuing her Master of Library and Information Studies at The SUNY University at Buffalo. She also works part-time in the Children’s Department of the Brighton Place Library in Tonawanda, NY. Her responsibilities at the Brighton Place Library have included collection development and management in both children’s and young adult literature. She has also been involved in creating exciting new programs for young patrons. Her philosophy in this work is to get moving, get messy and have fun.
As a Girl Scout Leader for four years, Emma has lead a troop of 15 girls ages 5 to 10 years and conducted workshops for other adult Girl Scout volunteers. She attributes her success at coordinating children’s library programs to her experience with the Girl Scouts.
In her spare time, Emma loves to play board games, color, and read extensively and broadly, with graphic novels as her passion. Her goal is to incorporate her interests – STEAM, interactive programming and a love of graphic novels – into her career as a youth services librarian. Last year she spoke about how graphic novels can be incorporated into curricula in order to meet Common Core standards in an engaging way at the School Librarians Association of Western New York Fall Sharing. She will be delivering the same presentation at the 2015 NYLA Annual Conference in Lake Placid in October.
Elissa works at the Wiliam K Sanford Town Library and is a current graduate student in the Masters of Information Science Program at SUNY Albany. After attending SUNY Geneseo and receiving a Bachelors degree in both psychology and art, she went on to earn a Masters Degree in Art Therapy from Vermont College. She has practiced art therapy in Kauai, Hawaii and returned to NY where she worked with tweens and teens. She is currently working in the circulation department of the Sanford Library but hopes to begin her career in youth services librarianship in the near future!