Arnulfo Talamantes, librarian at Sul Ross Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, developed an innovative approach to encouraging literacy and inspired a love of reading in his students in the process. And it has led him to become an I Love My Librarian (ILML) Award winner this year.
Talamantes’ programs and initiatives transformed the culture of reading at Sul Ross Middle School, notably the Rebel Bucks program at the school bookstore. Rebel Bucks allows students to purchase and keep books using campus currency earned through positive behavior in the classroom. Outside of the library’s walls, Talamantes has shown students and teachers the benefits of outdoor learning by establishing an urban community garden for the school as part of the Ross Roots program. His stewardship of the garden has created enormous educational and health benefits for the students, particularly teaching them about healthy food alternatives and fostering team-building activities.
Talamantes’s ILML Award nominators wrote: “The beauty of literacy, empowerment, and positivity is what [Talamantes] strives for, and he has created an imprint of this among all students, staff, and faculty.”
“It’s a little surreal,” Talamantes said about winning the award. “This is a huge honor. There’s something so special about Ross MS, and it’s nice to see the spotlight here and bring some good news in these difficult times.”
Talamantes and nine other ILML Award winners each receive a $5,000 cash prize, a $750 donation to their library, and complimentary registration to the American Library Association’s LibLearnX. Since the ILML Award’s inception in 2008, library users have shared more than 20,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to promote literacy, expand access to technology, and support diversity and inclusion in their communities. Learn more about previous award winners.