RUSA MARS section names Debbie Bezanson winner of service achievement award

The MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Section of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) has selected the winner of the 2015 service achievement award.

The My Favorite Martian Award, which offers a citation to a member of the MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Section who has contributed exceptional service to the section, was given to Debbie Bezanson, associate university librarian for research and user services, George Washington University Libraries. She was selected for her tireless advocacy for the section and her service as a role model for collaborative teamwork and leadership.

“The MARS Achievement Award serves an important role in the community of dedicated librarians that contribute to MARS. This award honors the service and contributions of our most outstanding members,” said section Chair Stephanie Graves. “Recipients have served selflessly to bring high quality programming and services to the MARS community and the library profession. This award recognizes the hours of labor and leadership that recipients have dedicated to our section.”

Most distinguished librarians in reference announced for 2014 achievement awards

RUSA has selected the winners of the 2014 achievement awards, which provide research and travel grants in recognition of  the nation’s most exceptional librarians, libraries and projects involving reference services today.

“RUSA’s Achievement Awards are a chance to give praise to the most notable librarians, libraries and library research in reference services. These awards are of the highest honor and recognize invaluable contributions to the field that may go unnoticed otherwise. Librarians are a humble, dedicated group; we are honored to highlight their accomplishments,” remarked RUSA President, Kathleen Kern. “Congratulations to this year’s winners; we are looking forward to the annual celebration in June! I would also like to sincerely thank the members of our award committees for their service during the selection process and our generous sponsors for their support.”

The RUSA Achievement Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 29 at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. All conference attendees are invited to the event. Additional event details will be available on the RUSA website in April.

The following recipients were honored.

William Miller, dean of libraries at Florida Atlantic University, is the winner of the Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award, RUSA’s highest honor. Miller was selected for his extensive career as an editor, author, scholar and practitioner in the field of reference services. His contributions have left, and continue to leave, a lasting impression on reference librarianship. The award consists of a citation and $5,000 supported by Gale Cengage Learning.

Diana Tixier Herald, program and outreach manager at Delta County Libraries in Colorado, has been selected as the winner of Novelist’s Margaret E. Monroe Award, which recognizes a librarian who has made significant contributions to adult library services. Herald, a voracious and varied reader, has excelled in her readers’ advisory efforts; her unwavering support for readers and literacy has left a national legacy.

The Northville District Library (Mich.) will receive the Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Reference and Adult Library Services for its Northville Historic Records portal. The historic records are an organized primary source that unites various community sectors to capture the city’s rich history. This award is sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning and presents $3,000 and a citation to a library or library system for developing a unique resource to meet patrons’ reference needs.

The article “Significantly Different?: Reference Services Competencies in Public and Academic Libraries,” RUSQ  (52:3), authored by Laura Saunders and Mary Wilkins Jordan of Simmons College, was selected for the Reference Service Press Award, which honors the most outstanding article published in Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ), RUSA’s research journal. The award includes $2,500 and a citation supported by Reference Service Press.

The Local History and Genealogy Department of Toledo-Lucas County Public Library (Ohio) has been selected as the winner of the John Sessions Memorial Award, for its extensive efforts in building an ongoing legacy recognizing the labor community. The award, sponsored by the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, presents $1,000 and a plaque to a library or library system that has shed light on the labor movement in the United States.

David Larsen, head of access services and assessment at the University of Chicago Library, will receive this year’s Virginia Boucher-OCLC Distinguished ILL Librarian Award. The award honors professional achievement, leadership and contributions to interlibrary loan and document delivery. Larsen was selected for his innovative and practical approaches to resource sharing, willingness to learn and test new products and improved workflow efficiencies. Sponsored by OCLC, the award consists of $2,000 and a citation.

Award winning author and Associate Librarian Celia Ross, of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business was chosen as this year’s winner of the Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Business Librarianship. Ross was selected for her dedication and commitment to the field of business librarianship and its practitioners. Her many contributions to the education of new and veteran business librarians have made her a go-to source in the field. This award is generously sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning and consists of $3,000 and a citation.

William “Bill” Forsyth, director of product management at Proquest, is this year’s winner of the Genealogical Publishing Company Award. Forsyth has been an active and prominent member of RUSA’s History section as well as the keynote speaker for many genealogical events. His outstanding contributions to the field sustain the importance of genealogy in historical research. Supported by Genealogical Publishing Company, this award presents $1,500 and a citation to a librarian or library in recognition for their achievements in genealogical reference, service or research.

Anne Houston, director of humanities and social sciences services at the University of Virginia Libraries has been named as the winner of this year’s MARS My Favorite Martian Award. Houston has been an active member of RUSA’s MARS Emerging Technologies in Reference section for many years. Her warmth and capacity for personal connection have positively impacted the section’s recruitment and retention of members. Houston will be presented a citation.

Travel and research grant recipients:

Yvonne Carignan, head of special collections and archives at George Mason University Libraries, has been selected as the winner of RUSA’s History Section’s Gale Cengage Learning History Research and Innovation Award. Carignan’s project, “History of Virginia Antebellum Social Libraries,” aims to document all social libraries that existed in the state of Virginia before the Civil War. This award is sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning and consists of a citation and $2,500 to help facilitate Carignan’s historical library research.

Ilana Barnes, business information specialist, and Tao Zhang, digital user experience specialist, of Purdue University Libraries are the project heads of “Assessment of Business Undergraduate Student Engagement and Behavior in a Crowd-Sourced Library Help System: Best Practices and Emerging Technology Opportunities.” They have been chosen as the winners of the BRASS Emerald Research Grant. The grant, sponsored by Emerald Group Publishing Limited, provides $2,500 to further research in business librarianship. Selected for the project’s potential to provide insights into user engagement opportunities, Barnes and Zhang aim to study a new type of reference model: crowd-sourcing.

Business Librarian Desirae Zingarelli-Sweet, at the Carrier Library of James Madison University is this year’s winner of RUSA’s BRASS Business Expert Press Award for Academic Business Librarians. Zingarelli-Sweet was selected for her outstanding efforts in collaboration with business faculty, students and community partners; library instruction and business reference research at the university. The award, supported by Business Expert Press, will provide $1,250 for funds to attend the ALA Annual Conference.

Katharine Macy, MLIS candidate at the University of Washington, has been selected as the winner of the BRASS Gale Cengage Learning Student Travel Award. Based on her extensive background and education in business, Macy shows great potential in becoming a successful business librarian. This award is sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning and will grant Macy $1,250 to attend the ALA Annual Conference.

Jacob Kubrin, resource sharing and fulfillment specialist at Cushing Library at Holy Names University, has been chosen as this year’s winner of the STARS Atlas Systems Mentoring Award. In a newly created position at the Cushing Library, Kubrin demonstrated a great need for professional development, networking and education to serve the ever increasing patron needs of the library. The award, sponsored by Atlas Systems, Inc. recognizes an individual new to the field of interlibrary loan and contributes $1,250 to attend the ALA Annual Conference.

The winners of many awards were announced as a part of the RUSA Book and Media Awards Ceremony at the 2014 Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.

Dr. Grace Jackson-Brown from the Duane G. Meyer Library at Missouri State University is the 2014 winner of the Zora Neale Hurston Award, which recognizes an individual that has demonstrated leadership in promoting African-American literature. Selected for her work with the Springfield African American Read-In and Dream Big programs, she has exposed diverse audiences to authors, workshops, live readings and celebrations that incorporate African-American authors. Sponsored by Harper Perennial, the award consists of $1,250 to attend the ALA Annual Conference, tickets to the FOLUSA Author tea and a set of the Zora Neale Hurston books published by Harper Perennial.

Francine Graf, former editorial director of Choice, has been named as the 2014 winner of the Louis Shores Award, which honors an individual reviewer, group or editor for their book reviewing excellence for libraries. Graf, retired as of early 2014, was chosen for her outstanding contributions to reviewing for resources for academic audiences. Graf will receive a citation at the ALA Annual Conference.

Mammals of Africa (Bloomsbury), edited by Jonathan Kingdon, David Happold, Mike Hoffmann, Tom Butynski, Meredith Happold and Jan Kalina, was selected as the winner of the Dartmouth Medal, honoring a significant reference publication. This amazing source covers every recognized mammalian species in Africa. This resource will serve as a primary source of information and as a baseline for preserving the biodiversity of this great continent. A medal will be presented at the ALA Annual Conference.

“Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation” (HarperCollins) by Yossi Klein Halevi was named the winner of the 2014 Sophie Brody Award. The award encourages, recognizes and commends outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. A medal will be presented at the ALA Annual Conference.

Call for volunteers: ALA & RUSA committee service

A message from RUSA’s President Elect, Joe Thompson:

Hello RUSA members!

I’d like to encourage you to volunteer for ALA Committees before the volunteer form closes for these on November 1, 2013.  Committee appointments will be finalized at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, and notifications will be sent out in the spring.  Terms begin July 1, 2014.  Visit the ALA and Council Committees webpage for committee descriptions:  For technical assistance or for more information on the ALA-level committee appointments process, you may contact Kerri Price at

To volunteer, go to:

Of course I’d also like to see you volunteer for RUSA!  You do have a bit more time to get your name submitted for these however.  March 1, 2014 is the planned closing date to volunteer for our RUSA, BRASS, CODES, History, MARS, RSS, and STARS committees.  There’s no reason to put it off though, so volunteer today!  Keep in mind that attendance at ALA Midwinter may not be required for some committees and sections.  Feel free to contact the committee chair, section chair, or me if you have any questions about attendance.  Links to RUSA division-level and section committees can be found at  Access the volunteer form using the same URL provided above.  The menu to select section-level committees is located at the bottom of RUSA Committee Volunteer Form.

RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Learn more about the association at

Thanks for supporting your associations!


“Nothing a librarian learns is ever wasted!” Q&A with RUSA Director-at-Large

During the next several weeks we will be highlighting members of RUSA’s Board of Directors. Take a minute to get to know a bit about our fantastic leaders! Interested in contacting Doris Ann? You may reach her at the email address listed below.

Meet Doris Ann Sweet, RUSA Director-at-Large. If her name doesn’t make you smile, this interview surely will! Thanks, Doris Ann, for introducing yourself to the RUSA membership and libraryland at large!

Doris Ann Sweet
Director of Library Services
Assumption College

What are you currently reading or listening to?
I commute 40 miles to work, so I listen to far more audio books than I read print or e-format, and usually, mysteries. Right now I am in the middle of Amanda Kyle Williams’s Stranger in the Room. While waiting in line for the post office in the exhibits at ALA Annual, Soho Press was brought to my attention by a fellow line lingerer, and I came home with a few of Soho’s international crime series titles in print format. I just finished Helene Tursten’s Detective Inspector Huss, which I loved, and am about to start a Peter Lovesey title.

What is the most interesting “reference” question you’ve ever been asked?
Years ago when I worked at the humanities/social science library at a large research university, I was approached late one evening  at the reference desk by a student who said he was doing research on UNIX. During his pause, I was thinking, “Oh, Oh, he probably has to go to the Science/Engineering Library” (several blocks away). Then he added “and how they were perceived in ancient Greece and Rome.” I was very glad I had paused when he did!

Tell us about your current role at your library, and maybe a little bit about your career path, too.
During library school, I fully intended to become a rare book/special collections librarian and took all the related courses I could. However, when I was offered a job as a reference librarian in a large university, I jumped at the chance, because the institution was my alma mater, and I figured that moving to special collections could be a natural career path. However, I loved reference and stuck with it for most of my career, in one context or another. During my first few years in the profession, I thought I would never want to move into management. Again, my attitude altered as I began to realize I might be in a better position to bring about changes if I were a department head. Eventually I made my way to my present position as the director of a small college library with a staff of 14. My job is to mentor and foster creativity in staff, support professional development, manage a budget, advocate for the library on campus, and make sure the library is fully integrated into the campus life and mission. Amazingly enough, that initial rare book/special collections concentration has turned out to be advantageous throughout my career, and especially in my current position. As they say, nothing a librarian learns is ever wasted!

Describe a particularly rewarding experience in your library career.
In a prior position, I was given the assignment by my library director to establish a library internship program for high school students, with emphasis on minorities and first-in- their-families to attend college. The aim of the internships was to introduce this population to the possibility of librarianship as a career. An initial collaboration led to another, and another, and within three years, my college was the recipient of a three-year IMLS grant to develop curriculum for the program and make it available for other libraries to use. Eight other public and academic libraries helped us carry out this project, called MassBLAST, the BLAST part standing for Building Library Staff and Awareness for Tomorrow. The experiences with other libraries and librarians, and with the many high school students who completed internships with our college, are among the highlight memories of my career. A poster of one of our first intern groups, complete with signatures of all of them, is a fabulous reminder of what libraries are all about as I enter my office each day.

Give one fun fact about yourself—can be personal or professional.
I grew up in a small town in northern New Hampshire, with 52 first cousins, most of whom lived in my town or two adjacent towns. Not to mention the second cousins…

Any hobbies?
Hiking, knitting, and listening to bluegrass music.

Why did you join RUSA (and/or sections)?
RUSA was a natural division to join in view of my interest in reference work. MARS became my primary section, because I have always been especially interested in technology and the impact it continually has on how we conceive of and provide reference services. MARS members were very welcoming in my early years of ALA involvement, and I will always value the friendships I have made through MARS activities over the years. Oh, and did I mention the professional knowledge gained?  Huge!

How has RUSA helped you in your career?
I have always been able to bring home valuable information and knowledge from every RUSA event, program, or committee meeting I have attended. Some was accrued from formal programs or discussion groups, some from publications, and a lot from informal discussions with colleagues from all over the country. I have had a chance to exercise leadership, program planning, and writing skills, which beyond the intrinsic values of learning, collaborating, and creating, found their way to my resume. I am sure my RUSA background helped me land in my present, and best-ever, job.

What are some of the RUSA activities you’ve participated in?
I was active in RSS, at one time chairing the Management of Reference Committee, and participating in creating RUSA Occasional Paper No. 25, titled , Get Them Talking: Managing Change Through Case Studies and Case Study Discussion. In MARS, I have chaired the Hot Topics Discussion Group, and worked on several committees before being elected MARS Member-at-Large and then Vice-Chair and Chair. As a RUSA Director-at-Large, I participate in the work of the RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee, and have also had the pleasure of representing RUSA as a member of the Emerging Leaders Subcommittee. A new venture, with Alesia McManus, is to lead an ad hoc group in developing a proposal for a RUSA legislative action mechanism and a legislative agenda.

If you’re open to having RUSA members connecting with you directly, provide an e-mail address and/or phone number where they can reach you.
Definitely:, (508) 767-7272