Box Elder woman wins “I Love My Librarian Award” from American Library Association

Posted at 9:53 AM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-06 11:53:47-05

Out of approximately 1,000 nominations nationwide, only 10 people each year are picked for the prestigious “I Love My Librarian” award from the American Library Association.

Winners of the award exemplify the invaluable role that librarians play within their communities, schools and campuses.

One winner this year is Joy Bridwell from Stone Child College Library located in Box Elder. Joy is also a member of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe.

She was nominated for the award by her assistant, Samantha Courchane.

Joy said, “It was actually quite a shock because the work that I do, I don’t do it to win recognition, I do it because I want to help my community. I want to help the students of the college and so, just to know that I was recognized, it’s heartwarming.”

Joy is the second Montanan librarian to ever receive the award, but she is the first tribal college librarian to win.

Joy added, “It does show that tribal colleges and small community colleges are doing big things that are being recognized. In our case, we are keeping our traditional language alive, which is one of the major things that we do in our library.”

The Stone Child College Library recently held an event on how to write and type in their traditional language. There was a major turn out and they are now thinking of turning it into a class.

Joy wants everyone to know that keeping libraries open is very important.

“I want to move past the idea that everything is going to be online and digital. Libraries are here to stay. We’re here to serve the community in any way we can by providing resources via digital or non-digital.”

She wants to thank her community for all the support given, her assistant for nominating her and her mother who has instilled the love for books in her. She said she is much honored to be included in this group of extraordinary women who are doing amazing work in their libraries.

The winners of the I Love My Librarian award received two plaques, one for their library and one for themselves. The winners’ names were also featured in the New York Times and they received an award of $5,000, which Joy said she will use to pay off her student loans.

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the I Love My Librarian Award and out of the thousands of nominations over the decade, only 110 librarians have received the honor.

Joy Bridwell from Stone Child College Library located in Box Elder
Joy Bridwell from Stone Child College Library located in Box Elder

Here is more information from the ALA website:

Joy is commended for engaging students, many of whom may not be familiar with library resources and services. She also works to continually extend the role of the library to meet the needs of the community of the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation as well as the surrounding areas.

She provides library literacy training for students. To make it more fun and engaging, Joy holds scavenger hunts with prizes. And she hosts library tours and trainings for community members who live nearby to introduce them to resources and services that are available through the school. 

Joy works with the library’s tribal archive, often partnering with local elders to add and create Cree-language materials to the collection.
She helps bring the community together by planning and hosting events on campus. The library has held events like game night and a talent competition. During midterms, the library held a karaoke event to help students relieve stress and have fun.

In the words of her nominator, “Joy loves her job and you can see that in the way that she works with everyone that comes in the library” and that she “never turns down anyone when they ask for help or assistance.”