Malvern-Hot Spring County Library
From fellow librarians to local activists to the county judge and more, there’s no shortage of community leaders in the “Brick Capital of the World” who love Clare Graham, director of the Malvern-Hot Spring County Library. It’s easy to see why: between expanding the library’s geographic reach, securing grant funding for library furniture and technology, hosting community dialogues that engage in difficult histories, and supporting the community’s unhoused population, she is building a strong future for Malvern and its library, brick by brick.
Graham has been central to expanding the library’s reach within Hot Spring County and to the far reaches of its rural landscape. With help from the library’s Friends group, she acquired and converted several coin-fed newspaper racks into Little Free Libraries spread out among more rural areas. In Bismarck—a town more than 20 miles from Malvern—she used grant funding to create the state’s first book kiosk to offer books, movies, and more. And for the last several years, Graham has been central in the community’s effort to build a future library annex and park in Bismarck, helping obtain six acres of land and coordinate the library’s construction.
“Clare was, is, and will always be an intelligent, loving, strategic, compassionate, resourceful, caring, wise, joyful, focused, and giving leader for her staff, town, county, region, and community as a whole,” one nominator wrote. “‘Above and beyond’ is her default state.”
Graham was selected from nearly 1,400 nominations from library users nationwide for the 2024 award. As part of her award, she will receive a $5,000 cash prize as well as complimentary registration and a travel stipend to attend ALA's LibLearnX event in Baltimore.
The I Love My Librarian Award is sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, with additional support from the New York Public Library, and is administered by the American Library Association. Since 2008, library users have shared more than 24,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to promote literacy, expand access to technology, and support diversity and inclusion in their communities.