2021 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award Recipients Announced

ACRL announces the recipients of the 2021 Excellence in Academic Libraries Awards:

  • Davidson College E.H. Little Library, Davidson, North Carolina
  • Tulsa Community College Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Loyola Marymount University William H. Hannon Library, Los Angeles, California.

Sponsored by ACRL and GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO, the award recognizes the staff of a college, community college, and university library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institution. Each library will receive $3,000 and a plaque.

“I am delighted that ACRL can highlight the many contributions that academic libraries make to their institutions, especially in the wake of this challenging and unprecedented year,” said ACRL Interim Executive Director Kara J. Malenfant. “The 2021 award recipients demonstrate strength and innovation in the face of a global health crisis, a clear commitment to student success and equity, and engagement with their local and campus communities. Receiving an Excellence in Academic Libraries Award is a tribute to each library and its entire staff for outstanding services, programs, and leadership.”

The Davidson College E.H. Little Library, recipient in the college category, impressed the award committee with its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its work in advancing social justice.

“The E.H. Little Library has demonstrated how their expertise, programming, and resources support and enhance the strategic priorities of the college,” said Lauren Pressley, chair of the 2021 Excellence in Academic Libraries Awards Committee and associate dean for research and learning services at the University of Washington. “Of particular note, the library staff has demonstrated that all library work contributes to social justice, providing a model for others to follow in engaging meaningfully with this work at a campus level. The library led and has been a key partner in helping transition instruction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing training and ongoing learning opportunities to encourage further faculty development.”

Like many institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic sent Davidson College into an emergency remote situation in March 2020. As faculty scrambled to pivot their in-person courses online and students adjusted to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the library sprang into action. With a week’s notice, they worked with faculty to transition more than 700 courses into an online environment. As the pandemic continued into the summer, the library team spearheaded efforts to prepare faculty for long-term online teaching through an intensive four-week Digital Learning Institute (DLI), focusing on making online courses accessible and equitable, creating community, and keeping students motivated and engaged. The DLI has since continued as bi-weekly coffee chats designed for faculty to share and discuss challenges and successes in the online classroom.

“We are honored to be recognized by ACRL for the dedication, hard work, and creativity of the E.H. Little Library team,” said Lisa Forrest, Leland M. Park director of the Davidson College Library. “As we work to advance Davidson College’s purpose of preparing students with humane instincts and disciplined and creative minds for lives of leadership and service, we are inspired daily by our students, faculty, and campus partners. We live in an especially fraught moment, and the college’s public commitment to access, racial equity, and social justice compels us to embrace a special set of responsibilities in everything we do. This award is a powerful acknowledgement of the role of the library in helping to create a more hopeful and just future.”

Tulsa Community College Library (TCC), recipient of this year’s award in the community college category, was chosen for its assessment-based approach to decision making and for building relationships with other campus departments.

“The TCC Library demonstrated a strategic approach of developing strong partnerships with other offices across the institution to further TCC’s educational mission and student support,” Pressley said. “The library is notable for their use of different types of assessment to enable data-driven decision making. The staff were quick to adapt in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, moving services online and partnering with other units to expand technology lending for their community.”

TCC Library’s partnerships across campus have been key to its success in supporting student learning and the institution’s mission of “building success through education.” To expand access to technology, the library created the Hotspot @ Home and Student Laptop Loan programs. Hotspot @ Home, funded through a partnership with the TCC Foundation, piloted in 2016 with just ten devices available for three-day checkout periods, but has grown the service to support more than 200 devices available for entire semesters. The Student Laptop Loan Program, created in partnership with TCC’s Student Affairs department, provided 165 laptops for semester-long checkout in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And in further response to the pandemic, the library supported several other departments across campus with the library’s chat service platform.

“We are both excited and humbled to be recognized for our work,” said Paula Settoon, dean of libraries and knowledge management at Tulsa Community College. “At TCC our vision is an educated, employed, and thriving community. The Library plays a big part in making that vision a reality by partnering with faculty to provide targeted support to students, increasing students’ access to technology, and partnering with other departments to create community both on campus and virtually for the students we serve.”

The Loyola Marymount University William H. Hannon Library, recipient in the university category, was selected for impactful initiatives that support the university community as well as other academic librarians.

“The William H. Hannon Library demonstrated a clear case of initiatives that bolster the institution’s mission, in particular encouraging learning, educating the whole person, and social justice,” Pressley noted. “The library has embraced evidence-based practices and built a culture of assessment which is evident in the outcomes of their initiatives. Further, their leadership in the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship is far reaching in its impact for the field.”

Beginning in 2014, the library supported an annual, year-long continuing education experience to help novice academic librarians improve their research skills and complete a research project for their design. Catalyzed with grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and designed around components of the research process, the Institute for Research Design and Librarianship (IRDL) covers a wide range of topics including scholarly publishing strategies, various qualitative and quantitative research methods, and tools for strengthening personal networks. Throughout the development of their projects, IRDL participants have access to a formal mentor program as well as past cohorts. While the pandemic has forced the program to pause, the library plans to resume it when it is safe to do so and is exploring the creation of a virtual summer workshop to help address the needs of intermediate researchers.

“At the William H. Hannon Library, we continually strive to be the best versions of ourselves,” said Kristine R. Brancolini, dean of the library at Loyola Marymount University. “We are driven by our campus culture to be innovative, inclusive, and collaborative. The Jesuit and Marymount values of Loyola Marymount University require us to consider who is left out in any conversation and to identify where we can do better. We are thrilled to receive this honor and hope that our work can serve as a model for libraries of all shapes and sizes.”

Additional information on the award, along with a list of past recipients, is available in the awards section of the ACRL website.

About ACRL
The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing nearly 10,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning, transforming scholarship, and creating diverse and inclusive communities. Find ACRL on the webFacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

About GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO
GOBI® Library Solutions from EBSCO offers over 17 million print and e-books to academic, research and special libraries worldwide. From streamlining workflows to partnering with library staff, GOBI Library Solutions is committed to providing the best solution for libraries’ acquisition, collection development and technical service needs. For more than 40 years, the mission has remained the same — to partner with libraries in providing access to the broadest selection of scholarly content available. For more information, visit the GOBI Library Solutions website at gobi.ebsco.com.