We were thrilled and overwhelmed with our Librarian Storyteller of the Year initiative and all the entries. It was a challenge to narrow it down to a shortlist, and we were relieved that our judges had the final challenging task to establish the winners.

Our final winners are:

  • 1st place: Frankie Jaiyeola, State Library Queensland

  • 2nd place: Pip Mullins, City of Melville (WA)

  • 3rd place: Amy Hallmark, Waimakariri District Libraries (NZ)

To finalise the judging, the SBL team attributed points to the top selections arriving at a shortlist of 15 entries. The Judges, which included SBL’s exclusive public library partner James Bennett, children’s book author and the current Australian Children’s Laureate, Ursula Dubosarsky, and New Zealand children’s book creators Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan narrowed the shortlist down further, all conveying what a challenging process it was. Finally Nicole Brownlee, SBL CEO/Founder, weighed in on the final tally to arrive at our top three winners. 

Ursula offered this feedback on judging, “This was truly I think the hardest competition I’ve ever had to judge – all of the finalists were simply outstanding by any standards. How wonderful to think of all these remarkable, committed and delightful storytellers out there in our libraries, waiting for the children!”

Sasha Cotter and Josh Morgan also commented on the calibre of entries, “We were blown away by the incredible entries submitted to Story Box Library. This made the judging process very tricky....but in the BEST kind of way! Although it was hard to select our top picks, it was wonderful and encouraging to see so many brilliant storytellers! Their ability to bring to life a small section of story and infuse it with such vibrancy and  enthusiasm was extremely impressive.It was also very inspiring to hear all the wonderful and different ways that Story Box Library is being used by librarians to help lift literacy in kids. And great to hear all the personal connections too. We loved being part of this initiative - thank you Story Box Library, it's been a privilege!”

SBL has been genuinely overwhelmed and enthused by the incredible range of submissions from all over Australia and New Zealand. So much so we have decided that we will be running the Librarian Storyteller of the Year initiative bi-annually!

First place winner Frankie Jaiyeola, from the State Library of Queensland said of becoming the first recipient of the SBL ‘Librarian Logie’, “It's very exciting! I've got my fancy gown all picked out ready for the post Covid event! In all seriousness though, I feel very honored to be the first winner of such a wonderful award!” 

After watching the storytellers on SBL and seeing the first prize, Frankie knew she had to enter, “I love sharing stories with children and families and since Covid, although it was sad to be disconnected physically from our communities, I ended up enjoying some elements of the transition to online. Reading stories from home and being able to share them with friends and family interstate and overseas felt really special and in some ways, telling a story online can somehow feel more intimate than in the traditional group setting. Hearing stories is an extension of this innate human desire to want to connect, learn, laugh and play together.”

Second place winner Pip Mullins, of West Hub A.H Bracks Library in Melville Western Australia said, "I'd like to say that I'm humbled but it has gone straight to my head! We really wanted to be a part of this fabulous initiative of recognising library story tellers and the importance of their role in the community. Just being able to express my love of reading and storytelling with the families in the community and the fun we have. And watching the children's interactions with the stories brings so much joy.”

Third place winner Amy Hallmark, Waimakariri District Libraries in New Zealand contributed, “I am rather chuffed! This year has been a huge challenge. Covid really made the year a tough ride. One of my highlights though was being able to connect with families during lockdowns giving them a wee reprisal from their stressful days and being a platform in which kids could still enjoy books and the library. I love sharing the beauty of a good book and song. Books provide a way to learn, laugh, dance and allow the imagination to soar. What could be better?”

For all those wonderful entrants that weren't successful this time, you’ll have a chance to demonstrate your incredible ongoing community work again in 2022 and SBL will continue to advocate for the storytellers that bring children’s books to life for their communities.