“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:   dasweet@assumption.edu, (508) 767-7272


RUSA award winners signify excellence in reference services

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) has announced the winners of its 2013 achievement awards, research and travel grants, which encompass the most outstanding librarians, libraries and projects in the field, and also highlight the promising leaders of tomorrow. Read the full press release here.

The RUSA Achievement Awards Reception and Volunteer Appreciation Party will be held from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30 at one of the ALA Annual Conference hotels. All conference attendees are invited to participate in this celebration, which will include hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Additional event details will be available at the RUSA website in April.

Achievement Awards:

● Dr. Catherine Sheldrick Ross, professor emerita at the University of Western Ontario, has been chosen as this year’s winner of the Margaret E. Monroe Award for her extensive and prominent research on reading and readers’ advisory. Sheldrick pioneered a way to transform the reference interview into a successful transaction for both reader and the librarian, thus enforcing the critical role libraries have in promoting literacy. This citation is presented to a librarian who has made significant contributions to library adult services.

● Neal Wyatt, doctoral candidate of the media, art and text program at Virginia Commonwealth University, was selected as the 2013 winner of the prestigious Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award for her influential and extensive contributions to the field of reference librarianship through her writing, teaching, leadership and service to RUSA. The award consists of a citation and $5,000 supported by Gale Cengage Learning. The Mudge Award is the highest honor bestowed by RUSA to an individual who has played a major role in furthering the field of reference librarianship.

● Palo Alto College Library’s (Tex.) Library a la Carte is the 2013 winner of the Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Reference and Adult Services. The Carte is staffed by librarians who provide individualized reference assistance and instruction in searching the library catalog and periodical databases. Carte staffers encourage students to participate in the Library’s Information Research certificate program, which is a series of information literacy sessions that are available face-to-face or online. This award is sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning and presents $3,000 and a citation to a library or library system for developing an imaginative and unique resource to meet patrons’ reference needs.

● “Libraries as the spaces between us: Recognizing and valuing the third space,” authored by James Elmborg, associate professor at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa, is the 2013 winner of the Reference Service Press Award. This award, which includes $2,500 and a citation generously sponsored by Reference Service Press, honors the most outstanding article published in Reference and User Services Quarterly, RUSA’s research journal.

● The Labor Archives of Washington at the University of Washington Libraries’ Special Collections will receive the 2013 John Sessions Memorial Award for its steady stream of exhibits, outreach efforts to the community and the impressive LibGuides site and digital collections portal site. This award is sponsored by the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO and presents a citation to a library or library system that has brought recognition to the labor movement in the United States.

● Community and conflict: The impact of the Civil War in the Ozarks,” a project headed by Brian Grubbs, local history and genealogy department manager in the Springfield-Greene County (Mo.) Library District, has won this year’s ABC-CLIO Online History Award. The project was selected for its innovative primary source digitization and access project that advances understanding of the Civil War in its understudied Trans-Mississippi theater. Sponsored by ABC-CLIO, the award consists of $2,500 and a citation that recognizes an outstanding free online historical reference resource.

● Collette G. Mak, head of resource access and delivery at the University of Notre Dame, is the winner of the 2013 Virginia Boucher-OCLC Distinguished ILL Librarian Award for outstanding professional achievement, leadership and contributions to interlibrary loan and document delivery. Mak was selected for her exceptional and sustained contributions to resource sharing, data analysis and her dedication to education and training for interlibrary loan practitioners. Sponsored by OCLC, Mak will receive $2,000 and a citation.

● Collections and Reference Services Librarian, Michael R. Oppenheim of the Rosenfeld Management Library at UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management has been selected as this year’s winner of the Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Business Librarianship for his countless contributions to the field as an author and leader in professional organizations. The award, sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning, provides $3,000 and a citation to an individual who has made a significant contribution to business librarianship.

● Janice Schultz, manager of the Midwest genealogy center at the Mid-Continent Public Library (Mo.) has been selected as this year’s winner of the Genealogical Publishing Company Award for her dedicated service to the field of genealogy librarianship.This award presents $1,500 and a citation to a librarian or library in recognition of their professional achievement in historical or genealogical reference, service or research and is made possible by the Genealogical Publishing Company.

● Nancy A. Cunningham, director of academic services at the University of South Florida, was selected for the 2013 MARS My Favorite Martian Award for her exemplary leadership, dedication, and enthusiasm to the MARS: Emerging Technologies in Reference Section. The award, a citation, recognizes a member who has shown excellence in service to the section.

● Larayne Dallas, engineering librarian at the University of Texas at Austin, was named the 2013 winner of the RSS Service Achievement Award for her outstanding efforts in supporting the Reference Services Section (RSS) of RUSA. The award is a citation presented to an RSS member who has made exceptional contributions toward attaining the goals of the section. 

Travel and Research Grant Winners:

● History and Germanic Language and Literature Librarian, Thea Lindquist of the University of Colorado at Boulder, has been selected as this year’s winner of the Gale Cengage History Research and Innovation Award for her research proposal, “History on the Semantic Web: Using a Linked Data Approach to Enhance Access in Digital Primary Sources on World War I.” This award is generously sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning and presents $2,500 and a citation to a librarian to facilitate and further research relating to history and history librarianship.

● Annette Buckley, research librarian for business at the University of California at Irvine, is the 2013 winner of the BRASS Business Expert Press Award for Academic Business Librarians. Buckley will receive $1,250 to attend the ALA Annual Conference; the award is sponsored by Business Expert Press.

● Kelly LaVoice, graduate student of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University, and current business librarian intern at the University of Pennsylvania’s Lippincott Business Library, is being awarded the BRASS Gale Cengage Learning Student Travel Award. The award, sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning and the Business Reference and Services Section (BRASS) of RUSA, offers $1,000 and a one year membership to BRASS to an outstanding MLIS student to fund travel to the ALA Annual Conference.

● Salvatore DiVincenzo, business librarian at the Miller Center of the Middle Country Public Library (N.Y.), will receive the Morningstar Public Librarian Support Award for his efforts in providing information and networking opportunities for businesses, independent entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations. This award is made possible by the generous support of Morningstar, Inc., and offers $1,000 to a librarian who has performed outstanding business reference services and who requires financial assistance to attend the ALA Annual Conference.

● Daniel Chesney, interlibrary loan and acquisitions coordinator of Southern Nazarene University (Okla.), was chosen as the 2013 STARS/Atlas Systems Mentoring Award winner for his energy and enthusiasm in building a partnership between interlibrary loan and acquisitions in his job. This award is sponsored by Atlas Systems, Inc., and offers a $1,250 travel grant for the ALA Annual Conference to an individual new to the field of interlibrary loan.

The winners of several awards were announced as a part of the RUSA Book and Media Awards Reception at the 2013 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle.

● Lavonda Kay Broadnax, digital project coordinator, Library of Congress, is the 2013 Zora Neale Hurston Award winner for her bibliography project Selected Literature Published by the Civil War Soul Sisters. This award, sponsored by Harper Perennial, recognizes an ALA member who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in promoting African American literature. The winner receives $1,250 and a plaque. Read the press release here.

● The team behind NextReads, an e-newsletter tool for libraries from EBSCO’s NoveList, will be honored with the 2013 Louis Shores Award for excellence in book reviewing and other media for libraries. NextReads offers readers a thoughtful mix of reviews of new and selected older materials to support libraries as they build a community of readers. Read the press release here.

● The Dictionary of American Regional English, published by Belknap Press, is this year’s winner of the Dartmouth Medal—an annual award sponsored by Dartmouth College that honors the creation of an outstanding and significant reference work. The committee identified the dictionary as an invaluable reference resource that embodies extensive field work, attention to detail and a lot of hard work. Read the press release here.

● “The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible” by Matti Friedman (Algonquin) was named the winner of the 2013 Sophie Brody Award for its beautiful illuminations of Jewish themes such as the Diaspora, the State of Israel, the survival of original Jewish texts and the fate of the Jews in the Arab world. This annual award honors achievement in Jewish literature and is sponsored by Arthur Brody and the Brodart Foundation. Read the press release here.

The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. 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. Not a member, but interested in being part of a member community and enjoying discounted registration rates on conference, preconferences and other events? Join, renew or add RUSA to your ALA membership at www.ala.org/membership. Learn more about the association at www.ala.org/rusa.

Zora Neale Hurston Award: RUSA seeks librarians demonstrating leadership in promoting African American literature

Do you know someone(s) who should be recognized for their work in promoting African American literature? Could it be you? We encourage you to submit a nomination for the 2013 Zora Neale Hurston Award. The deadline for all nominations is Dec. 15, 2012.

The Zora Neale Hurston Award recognizes any ALA member who has demonstrated leadership in promoting African American literature. The winner receives funds 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 at the time the award is made.

Recent past winners include:
2012  Vanessa Irvin Morris, Assistant Teaching Professor, Drexel University

2011  Theresa Venable, Librarian for Children’s Defense Fund Haley Farm’s Langston Hughes Library
Venable was chosen for her work in library programming designed to promote African American authors and African American illustrators of children’s picture books.  Examples of Venable’s programming include directing the 2009 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture sponsored by the Association of Library Service to Children and coordinating the 2010 Big Read Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

2010  Anthony Loum, Coordinator of Adult Library Services, Brooklyn Public Library
For his work planning and ensuring the quality of programs delivered by the Brooklyn Public Library in the 2009 Big Read for which Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was the chosen book.

2009  Miriam Rodriguez, Assistant Director, Public Services, Community Integration of the Dallas Public Library

Don’t delay! You can download the nomination form (PDF) here.

Questions? Contact Jannie R. Cobb, Zora Neale Hurston Award Committee Chair at jcobb@nlc.edu.

Exceptional RSS members wanted for RUSA’s 2013 RSS Service Achievement Award

Do you know an outstanding RUSA Reference Services Section member deserving of national recognition? Nominate him or her for the 2013 Reference Services Section (RSS) Achievement Award. This award honors an RSS member’s contributions to the section. The recipient will be chosen based on either sustained contributions towards attaining the goals of RSS or a single significant contribution that has resulted in a positive impact upon the work of the section.

Please send your nomination detailing specifically how the nominee has met either of these criteria to Virginia Cole (vac11@cornell.edu), the award committee chair, by December 15.

Learn more about RUSA’s Reference Services Section.