Crystal Honor Award – Past Winner


This highly selective award is given for distinguished support of/or contributions to the school library profession, school libraries in Illinois, and/or contributions to the Association. It may be given for political, financial, or personal contributions.

President Mary Jo Motousek, Dorsey Chambers, & Local Arrangements Chair Georgeann Burch at the Annual Awards Banquet at the iHotel and Conference Center in Champaign, November 8, 2021

“Frequently the library is considered the heart of the school. Dorsey Chambers truly is the heart of Chicago Public Schools libraries and librarians. Throughout Dorsey’s 35 year career as an educator and librarian, her contributions, support, and advocacy for school libraries and librarians are distinguished and deserve the highest recognition. As the Library Coordinator for the Chicago Public Schools, Dorsey has a unique role at the CPS district level directly working with all CPS librarians and impacting thousands of students and educators across the entire district of 500 schools.

During her 15 years working at the district level there have been many changes and various department restructures, however Dorsey has remained a constant and fervent advocate for CPS libraries and librarians.

Dorsey has coordinated mentorship programs for new librarians in the district, led countless professional development sessions related to standards, curriculum, diversity, and inclusion to keep librarians at the forefront, and led teams of librarians to create numerous yearly inclusive recommended reading lists. CPS librarians can always count on Dorsey to lend a supportive and understanding ear, help come up with creative solutions, and spread her contagious enthusiasm.

Dorsey’s signature program is the district-wide Elementary Battle of the Books program held yearly and open to all CPS students in grades 4-8. This year-long program encourages students to engage at a deeper level with culturally relevant books. Through Dorsey’s leadership, advocacy, and championing, the CPS Battle of the Books program has positively impacted thousands of CPS students, teachers, and librarians throughout the years.

Most recently Dorsey has spearheaded the Critical Cataloging project at CPS which is working to adjust the subject headings and keywords that are used to locate books in our library catalogs to remove terms that are historically racist, sexist, ableist, and heteronomative. Through this project Dorsey has connected with various partners, such as the major book vendors, the Chicago History Museum, and internal partners, such as the CPS Department of Equity and the the CPS American Indian Program. As we know, words matter, and Dorsey is a strong advocate to ensure our students see themselves reflected in our catalogs. Equity and inclusion are Dorsey’s passions.

Prior to her role as the Library Coordinator at the district level, Dorsey began her career as a kindergarten teacher and then worked as a school librarian at a number of CPS schools (Alexander Graham, Jenner, Boone, Medill Primary, Jensen, Sawyer, and Cardenas) over the course of 20 years. She was also an Adjunct Faculty of Children’s Literature at Loyola University sharing her passion for equity, inclusion, and culturally relevant materials to students and educators beyond CPS.

Dorsey worked with AISLE, then ISLMA, on an earlier iteration of I-SAIL and has presented numerous times at AISLE conferences, most recently sharing the CPS Recommended Reading Lists. Additionally, Dorsey is National Board Certified and has mentored librarians seeking National Board Certification.”

– Nomination from Katherine Hlousek

Past Winners

2021 – Dorsey Chambers, Chicago Public Schools Library Administrator
2020 – Ellen Popit, Associate Director of IL Heartland Library System
2019 – Dr. Keith Curry Lance, Library Researcher
2015 – Jesse White, Secretary of State
2005 – Jean Wilkins, Director of the State Library
2005 – Nancy Moroney, ISLMA designer
2003 – Valerie Wilford, Director Alliance Library System
2001 – Jesse White, Secretary of State
2000 – Ann Weeks, Dir. of the National Library Power Program
1999 – Larry Efaw, Library Book Selection Service
1997 – Deborah Miller, Lobbyist
1995 – Senator Paul Simon & Senator Carol Mosley Braun
1990 – Jim Edgar, Secretary of State
Special Recognition Awards
1993 – George H Ryan, Secretary of State
1995 – Dr. Larry Werner, ISBE
Outstanding Achievement Awards
1991 – Bridget Lamont, Director of the State Library