San Francisco librarian receives I Love My Librarian Award

Janet Tom recognized with prestigious national public service honor

SAN FRANCISCO – Janet Tom, reference librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, is a winner of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award. Recognized for her leadership in her community and commitment to transforming lives, she is one of only 10 librarians in the country to receive this national honor.

“We could not be more proud of Janet Tom. She is an exceptional librarian, focused on meeting patrons’ needs for valuable information and resources, and is most deserving of this award,” says City Librarian Michael Lambert.

Tom was nominated for her ability to bring taboo subjects out of the dark and discuss them with care and respect. Her innovative “Death and Dying” program series was instrumental in helping community members deal with grief and dispelling the stigma around discussing mortality. Her nominators also noted Tom’s work with San Francisco Chinese Alzheimer’s Association to create a Cantonese/English bilingual forum for elders and their caregivers.

The library’s subject specialist for health/medical books and periodicals, she has added to the complementary health collection materials on subjects such as acupuncture, cranial sacral, yoga, herbs and other health and healing modalities. Many patrons in the Bay Area are especially interested in these topics and, thanks to Tom, San Francisco Public Library is often the only local library that offers such an extensive collection.

A magnet for information – sparking curiosity in library patrons, colleagues and friends –she immerses herself in community events, experiences and information to support topics the community cares about. Through community engagement, Tom “brings the best of the Bay Area together,” according to her nominators.

The American Library Association (ALA) receives I Love My Librarian Award nominations from the general public that showcase the lasting contributions of dynamic librarians working in public, school, college, community college and university libraries. This year library users nationwide submitted 1,974 detailing how their favorite librarians have gone above and beyond to improve community members’ lives. In 2016, SFPL Librarian Lia Kharis Hillman received the I Love My Librarian Award for her Biblio Bistro program in which she provides free public demonstrations on cooking with in expensive locally grown foods at the Civic Center Farmer’s Market.

Since the award’s inception in 2008, ALA has selected up to 10 librarians from a pool of hundreds of nominations. This year’s award winners will each receive a $5,000 cash prize, a plaque and a travel stipend to attend the I Love My Librarian Award ceremony in Philadelphia on Jan. 25, 2020, at 3 p.m. during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits. The event will stream via Facebook Live at

Over the last decade, library supporters have shared more than 19,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to connect them to information, educational opportunities and critical technology. Information regarding previous award winners, can be found on the I Love My Librarian website at

Carnegie Corporation of New York generously sponsors the I Love My Librarian Award. The New York Public Library and the New York Times are award co-sponsors. The ALA administers the award through ALA’s Communications and Marketing Office, which promotes the value of libraries and librarians.

Award artwork and 2019 recipient photos are available at

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation’s work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.

About The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves nearly 17 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About San Francisco Public Library:

San Francisco Public Library is dedicated to free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joys of reading for our diverse community. The library system is made up of 27 neighborhood branches, the San Francisco Main Library at Civic Center and four bookmobiles.

To learn more, please visit and follow on Twitter @SFPublicLibrary and on Instagram @sfpubliclibrary.

The original article can be found on the SFPL website