Equity, diversity, and inclusion are at the center of Shamella Cromartie’s work at Western Carolina University (WCU), in Cullowhee, North Carolina, where she serves as associate dean of library services. And it has led her to be chosen as a 2022 I Love My Librarian (ILML) Award winner. Awarded annually, the ILML honor recognizes exceptional academic, public, and school librarians.
At WCU, Cromartie developed and implemented a program that coaches faculty members in employing inclusive pedagogy in their courses and also rewards successful applicants with a stipend for their work and funding for inclusive classroom materials. As one of her nominators noted, “Prior to her arrival, I never thought of the library as a space that would lead in diversity and inclusion efforts. She is cultivating faculty pedagogical capacity while simultaneously ensuring our collection is inclusive.”
Cromartie’s dedication to supporting research and scholarship efforts received praise from colleagues who nominated her for the award. In one story from her nomination letter, a professor researching a Black administrator of African American schools in the 1920s to 1950s sought the educator’s master's thesis, of which only one copy exists. After the professor hit repeated dead ends working with other librarians trying to access the thesis, Cromartie “went the extra mile” to work with the holding institution and contextualize the professor’s need and research focus. “A month or so later, she walk[ed] in my office with the bound thesis—as I read the pages, I cried,” the professor said.
At the ILML award ceremony—presented virtually during LibLearnX in January—Cromartie thanked the community of colleagues who have “taught me about equity, equality, and justice, and given me a set of tools” to make the library more inclusive, as well as her library’s interlibrary loan staff “who help me fulfill the missions that my colleagues are so often grateful for.”
Cromartie 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.