Library Media Specialist
Robidoux Middle School
St. Joseph, Missouri
Prizes, activities, free books, and fun—the biannual Novel Nation Book Fairs at Robidoux Middle School have it all thanks to library media specialist Melissa Corey.
Using grant and Title I funding, Corey researches, purchases, and sorts more than 1,200 low-cost, high-quality books each fall and spring, and each student—many from impoverished backgrounds—takes home three free books. “One parent was in tears the first time they visited the book fair, as her student had never been able to afford anything at traditional, for-profit book fairs,” one nominator shared. Corey’s efforts have allowed her students to take home more than 5,000 books that reflect their diverse backgrounds and experiences and have earned her numerous accolades in her local community for amplifying access to literacy, including recognition in 2021 from the St. Joseph News-Press as “20 Who Count,” among more than 75,000 residents.
Corey’s impact extends beyond her student community and into her professional one. In 2022, she created Visual Book Lists, an extensive list of printable book recommendations covering an array of topics, genres, and identities, each with a Canva template for other librarians to adapt. In her term as president for the Missouri Association of School Librarians, Corey played a central role advocating for intellectual freedom in school libraries, coordinating with the Missouri Library Association and the ACLU of Missouri to file a lawsuit against Senate Bill 775, which would require school libraries to remove books the state deems sexually explicit. And recently, she raised funds for local charities supporting diversity and inclusion with sales of a t-shirt she designed.
“Melissa Corey is not just our school librarian,” one of her nominators wrote. “She is an educator, a leader, a mentor, technology wiz, co-worker, and friend.”
Corey 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.