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Local librarian wins national award for helping a young woman transform her life

Dec 5, 2017

A local librarian is one of ten across the country who has been recognized for transforming his community.

Tim Ryan, who works at the Sully Branch of the Rochester Public Library, was nominated for the I Love My Librarian award by Trina Thompson.

Thompson was a teen mother when she and her three young children came to the Sully Branch on Webster Avenue two years ago looking for a safe place to stay.

Credit Beth Adams / WXXI

Ryan was the librarian on duty that Saturday. He noticed Thompson and her children sitting in the teen section and she was looking down. He approached her and asked if everything was okay.

"And she kind of opened up a little bit and let me know what her situation was,” Ryan said. “She had just left an abusive boyfriend. There had been a domestic incident earlier that day; she didn't know where she was gonna go."

Ryan helped Thompson and her kids find a place to stay. Later, he helped her complete a resume. After she found a job, he helped her fill out financial aid forms and enroll in nursing school.

"We kind of run into that type of situation almost on a daily basis here - not to that extreme, necessarily”, said Ryan. “But being an urban library, there's a whole different component to it. It's all about building relationships with the patrons who come in here."

Balloons were decorating the Sully Branch as co-workers welcomed Ryan back to work this week. On Friday, he went to New York City where he was one of ten librarians across the U.S. to receive the I Love My Librarian Award.  The American Library Association chose the winners from among 1,125 nominees.

Quick to deflect attention from himself, Ryan said he considers his award something that the whole library staff earned.  He said his supervisors modeled the social aspect of the job that has nothing to do with books.

"You don't realize the help you're giving. Since we get paid for it so it becomes routine. You don't realize how much the other person appreciates what you're doing and what you are actually doing for them."

Ryan said he hopes he can find Trina Thompson to let her know how much it meant to him that she took the time to fill out a nomination form and single him out.  He has been unable to reach her since he got news of the award.