EPL’s Elacsha Madison wins ALA’s I Love My Librarian Award

January 18, 2023

EVANSTON, ILL. – The Evanston Public Library is proud to announce that its own Elacsha Madison has won the American Library Association’s coveted I Love My Librarian Award.

The I Love My Librarian Award honors exceptional librarians from academic, public and school libraries who were nominated by patrons nationwide for their expertise, dedication and profound impact on the people in their communities.

Madison, who is currently serving as the Library’s interim Innovation and Digital Learning Manager, is well-known for her work with Evanston’s teens and for managing collaborative partnerships with Evanston’s schools and nonprofit organizations to address teens’ needs.

“Elacsha Madison is elevating teen outreach efforts and bringing innovative STEAM programs to marginalized communities at the Evanston Public Library,” read the award nomination. “From hosting a ‘Taste of the Loft’ event at local schools and parks to give local students a sample of the library’s teen programming to a partnership with a local organization addressing food injustice, she is serving as a mentor, advocate and community builder.” 

In addition to ‘Taste of the Loft,’ Madison has run the NorthShore Chapter of the National Society for Black Engineers Junior at Family Focus for the past three years, patching the STEM pipeline for BIPOC teens. Madison also runs EPL’s “We Can Dig It” gardening program that teaches teens and adults how to grow food through hydroponics in partnership with Evanston Grows. 

“I love working with youth and our community members because there is never a dull moment and they are always teaching me about myself,” Madison said. “It’s a back and forth relationship.”

In the summers, she can be found driving EPL’s mini-bus to parks and school parking lots around Evanston, bringing pop-up Library programming to teens wherever they are. 

Madison and her team, in partnership with D65, are also responsible for the annual Cardboard Carnival, a citywide coding challenge funded by the Illinois Library Association that challenges youth in 5th through 8th grade to learning coding skills and turn everyday household items into arcade games. 

Just this week, during Monday’s MLK Day programming at the Library, Madison led dozens of teens in a service project sewing sanitary products to keep teen girls in Ghana in school. 

“We are incredibly proud of the work Elacsha does every day to develop innovative and engaging programming for our teen patrons,” Interim Library Director Heather Norborg said. “Her dedication to the youth in our community has helped countless young people discover new interests and engage with issues and ideas they care about. We are incredibly lucky to have her in our Evanston Public Library community.” 

ALA received more than 1,500 nominations from library users for this year’s award, which demonstrates the breadth of impact of librarians across the country. 

“I am so honored to just be nominated but to actually win this year’s award, my heart is so full. I was always taught to be good to people even when there is no one around and take care of your community,” Madison said.

She also thanked her supportive family. 

“I had a lot of people be good to me growing up on the South Side, and I made a promise that I would invest in the youth and the community just like they did me.”

I Love My Library Award honorees will each receive a $5,000 cash prize as well as complimentary registration and a $750 travel stipend to attend ALA’s LibLearnX event in New Orleans. The award ceremony will take place at the event on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. 

“Even in these unprecedented times and as our nation’s library workers face historic levels of intimidation and harassment due to an ongoing wave of book censorship, librarians continue to empower their patrons, teach critical literacy skills, promote inclusion in their space and collections, and provide vital services for their communities,” said American Library Association President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada. “Congratulations to this year’s I Love My Librarian Award honorees, who positively impact the lives of those they serve every day.”

Since the award’s inception in 2008, library users have shared more than 23,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to promote literacy, expand access to technology, and support diversity and inclusion in their communities. 

“I love my job and I love being out in the community truly making a difference – the Library is more than just four walls, and I am proof of that, and so are my dynamic colleagues that I get the pleasure of working with everyday. I know we don’t wear capes, but librarians definitely have the power to make change.” 

You can read more about Madison’s work at EPL and her nomination at https://ilovelibraries.org/love-my-librarian/elacsha-madison/

For more news and information about the American Library Association, visit www.ala.org. To learn more about the innovative programs and services happening at the Evanston Public Library, visit epl.org. 

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