Jessica Elaine Holmes, a librarian at Westridge Elementary School (Franklin County), has received the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award for outstanding public service to the community and ongoing commitment to changing lives through education.

Holmes was one of 10 librarians nationwide to receive the award this year. She received a $5,000 prize at an award ceremony and reception Tuesday in New York.

“It was an unforgettable trip, and I am truly honored to have been selected by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Times, the American Library Association, and the selection committee,” Holmes said. “It was inspirational to hear the backgrounds of the other winners and to learn about the contributions those librarians are making in their libraries and communities.”

Library users may nominate librarians in public school, college, community college and university libraries for the award. More than 1,000 library patrons submitted detailed stories regarding how their librarian had an impact on their communities and lives, including longtime Westridge teacher Joe Lovell, who nominated Holmes.

“She truly embodies what an excellent school librarian should be. Her incredible work ethic, creativity, and passion for her library and programs, numerous hands-on endeavors, and knowledge of both library and classroom content are why the students and teachers at Westridge LOVE OUR LIBRARIAN!” Lovell wrote in his nomination.

Holmes inherited a library that was only minimally used by students and staff, transforming it in less than one year into a warm and inviting place for everyone in the school. She promotes reading by directing the Battle of the Books competition for 4th- and 5th-grade students and coordinating such reading incentive programs as Pizza Hut’s “Book It!” and the Lexington Legends’ “Hit The Books.” She also assists students in Book Fest, a literature-based program for gifted and talented students.

Holmes also fosters a love of technology among students. She directs the Student Technology Leadership Program, in which students discover new technologies and mediums. For example, she worked with students on a feature film that placed third in a statewide competition, and she recommends new software that enhances projects.

“Ms. Holmes has served as a leader in all facets of her profession and continues to strive for self-improvement. In my 35 years as a classroom teacher, I have had the opportunity to work with many fine librarians. I have never known an individual as passionate about children and their success as Jessica Holmes,” Lovell wrote.

“It is such a rewarding profession,” Holmes said. “I treasure each and every day with my students. I am fortunate to work at a school where my creativity is supported by administration and where my teachers are flexible and willing to try new things. I do not know if I would have been as successful at any other school. My Westridge family has helped me to be the best librarian I can be.”

Holmes is one of two Kentucky librarians – and the first from a Kentucky school – among the 70 recipients of the I Love My Librarian Award in its seven years. More than 14,000 nominations have been submitted nationwide.

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