Much-Loved iSchool Alumna Sylvia Cieply Receives National Award for Librarianship


The coveted 2015 I Love My Librarian award winners have been announced, and one of this year’s 10 honorees is San José State University School of Information alumna Sylvia Cieply (MLIS 2011). Congratulations!

The coveted 2015 I Love My Librarian award winners have been announced, and as one of this year’s 10 honorees, San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool) alumna Sylvia Cieply (MLIS 2011) is feeling the love.

The award is a collaborative program of Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Public Library, The New York Times, and the American Library Association. According to the program website, winners are selected “for their dedicated public service and the valuable role they play in our nation’s communities in transforming lives through education.”

Cieply is a teacher librarian at the Otto A. Fischer School at the Juvenile Hall in Orange County, California. She is credited with developing the recreational reading program at the school, and with instilling a love of and respect for learning in the students at the school. Colleague Dave Busch, who nominated Cieply for the award, stated, “Many of our students reject learning because school isn’t ‘their thing.’ When Sylvia provides a resource for such a student, she opens a door for that student to reenter the learning process and increase their academic success.”

Cieply first came to the Otto A. Fischer School as a temporary employee in 2010, after being laid off from a previous job as a media assistant at another school. Her perseverance paid off when a permanent position at the school opened up and she became its first credentialed teacher librarian. She stated that the courses she took in the acclaimed Master of Library and Information Science program at the SJSU iSchool prepared her well for the work at the school library, and remarked that “[INFO 266] Collection Management and [INFO 271A] Young Adult Fiction” have proved to be particularly useful.

In his nomination form, Busch made note of Cieply’s gift for collection development. “Her vision for the library has transformed the collection into one that not only reflects [the students’] experience but broadens their thinking and exposes them to positive choices they may not have considered,” he explained.

Asked about how she felt about winning the award, Cieply laughed and replied, “I feel like a fraud, because my job is so great!” She added that the position at the juvenile hall school library “is an ideal job that plays to my strengths.”

Cieply also noted that she has been lucky to work in an environment where everyone sees the value in what she is doing. “Not all juvenile halls have teacher librarians and physical libraries,” she noted. “My coworkers are amazing, the probation staff is really supportive, and the Title I office is really wonderful.”

For Cieply’s colleagues, the award makes perfect sense. Maria Martinez, another teacher at the school, supported her nomination. “It has been so exciting to see students that had limited reading abilities suddenly reach for books on the shelf or book cart that would have been beyond their reading level at one point,” she declared. “I also recall one particular student that became such an avid reader that decided that he wanted to be a writer and even wrote several chapters of his first book!”

For Cieply, being named one of the recipients of the I Love My Librarian award is both a great honor and a humbling experience. She described the other nominees as “incredible company,” and stated that she was thrilled to be chosen for the award.

I Love My Librarian award winners receive $5,000, a plaque, and a travel stipend so that they can attend the award ceremony and reception in New York City. More information about the I Love My Librarian award and the ALA’s I Love Libraries initiative is available on the I Love Libraries website.