Anchorage school librarian wins national award

An Anchorage school librarian is among 10 from across the nation being honored for public service this year by the American Library Association.

Dona Helmer, the librarian at College Gate Elementary School in East Anchorage, received $5,000 along with the I Love My Librarian Award on Wednesday. The association said in a statement the award honors Helmer's "outstanding public service to the community and ongoing commitment to transforming lives through education and lifelong learning."

According to the association, students at Helmer's school can earn "Dewey dollars" to purchase school supplies. Her work has included a program in 2013 – when she was named School Librarian of the Year by the Alaska Association of School Librarians -- encouraging students to research homelessness, then make fleece blankets as they come up with possible solutions.

"Though grants, Helmer has funded numerous field trips to enhance what students are studying in the classroom," ALA officials said. "For a farm-to-school program, she organized trips to the botanical garden for tours and lectures about plants and soils. She led field trips to a performing arts center for students to experience live theater, many for the first time."

In a letter nominating Helmer for the award, College Gate teacher Tamara Ramsey said faculty and students alike feel her positive impact at the school.

"We simply couldn't do our job without Dona," Ramsey wrote. "As one of my second-grade students said, 'She is awesome! I want to be a librarian just like her when I grow up!'"

Helmer and the other honorees received their awards at a banquet in New York City, the association said.


The other librarians who received the award include:

Diane Brown with the New Haven Free Public Library in Connecticut

Doug Campbell with the Willis Library at the University of North Texas in Denton

Sylvia Cieply with the Otto A. Fischer School Library in the Orange County, California Juvenile Hall

Courtney Kincaid, with the Hood County Library in Granbury, Texas

Leslie D. Koch, with the Armstrong Elementary School in Eastover, North Carolina.

April Roy, with the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri.

Elizabeth G. Rumery at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point Campus Library in Groton

Dr. Christopher A. Shaffer at Troy University in Troy, Alabama

Sugana Williams at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.