ACRL announces the recipients of the 2020 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award – Nevada State College Marydean Martin Library, Henderson, Nevada; Santa Rosa Junior College Libraries, Santa Rosa, California; and the University of Maryland Libraries, College Park, Maryland. 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.
“I am delighted that ACRL can highlight the many contributions that academic libraries make to their institutions,” said ACRL Executive Director Mary Ellen K. Davis. “This year’s recipients demonstrate a clear commitment to student success and equity, a creative and inventive approach to developing innovative programs, 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 Nevada State College Marydean Martin Library, recipient in the college category, impressed the award committee with its digital transformation and dedication to textbook affordability.
“The culture of the Marydean Martin Library and the commitment of library leadership to providing space and opportunities for their staff to engage in team building, along with their attention to the morale of their librarians, staff, and student employees, empowers library staff to own and contribute to the campus mission,” said Cheryl Middleton, chair of the 2020 Excellence in Academic Libraries Committee and associate university librarian for research and scholarly communication at Oregon State University. “Faced with a lack of space to grow the library’s physical collections and looking for innovative ways to serve a commuter student population, the library – with the input of students and faculty – created the first digital academic library in Nevada. And with input from the student body, library space was transformed into a warm and welcoming space for students to spend time learning and relaxing when they are on campus.”
“Marydean Martin Library staff continually make a positive impact across campus through developing strong relationships with faculty and student government,” Middleton continued. “Librarians are embedded in the campus curriculum and contribute to retention and graduation rates of a historically underrepresented population.”
Sponsored by the office of the provost, the No-Cost Textbook Summer Institute is the library’s flagship textbook affordability program. Librarians lead a six-week institute to support instructors as they convert their courses from using paid textbooks to open educational resources (OER) or library-provided e-books. Since the program’s inception two years ago, more than 15% of full-time instructors have participated in the program, and students have saved nearly $600,000 on textbook costs. Nevada State librarians view textbook affordability as an equity issue, and assessment data from the program also indicates improved student outcomes, with higher grades in classes where students were not required to purchase a textbook.
“Our campus is thrilled to be recognized for this prestigious award,” said Nathaniel King, director of library services at Nevada State College. “Our library team is an exceptionally talented group, and they are leaders in seeking creative ways to impact the academic success of our students. These efforts would not be possible without support from excellent campus leadership, dedicated and innovative faculty, and a wide range of incredible campus partners. We are very humbled to have our collective efforts recognized. Our deepest thanks to the work of the ACRL staff and the selection committee.”
Santa Rosa Junior College Libraries (SRJC), recipient of this year’s award in the community college category, was chosen for its dedication of services to its campus community.
“Santa Rosa Junior College Libraries presented a compelling story of learning services and programs that serve the faculty, staff, and students of their institution,” noted Middleton. “The libraries have redesigned their spaces and services based on extensive student input, which has received an overwhelmingly positive response from students. As one example of this redesign, the libraries have transformed the reference desk into the Research Hub, where students come to complete their assignments from start to finish through guided practice and peer-to-peer learning. As the application notes, ‘Students tell us they would like to live at the library because we have designed it around their needs.’”
“The libraries have also developed targeted services and programs to decrease the ‘equity in access gap,’” continued Middleton. “Special programs such as a unique collaboration between ESL faculty and librarians have resulted in the libraries being a safe space for international students to receive help and complete assignments. Additionally, the collaborative work between the libraries and student affairs has provided textbooks and long-term technology checkouts for students through its new Tech Gear Desk.”
As one example of its exemplary commitment to the campus community, the libraries joined an emergency rapid response team in providing support for the campus in a time of crisis following a firestorm in October 2017 that devastated the SRJC community. While the campus was closed and classes were canceled, the library remained open as a welcoming space for students and provided food, shelter, emotional support, and computer and internet access as they began the process of rebuilding their lives. During this time, the library hosted open counseling sessions by college mental health professionals, offered therapy dogs, and created listening boards to help students express their feelings and articulate their needs. The handwritten responses from these boards have been placed in a time capsule created by students to acknowledge SRJC’s 100th anniversary.
“We are excited and proud to have earned the 2020 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award,” said Phyllis Usina, interim library dean at Santa Rosa Junior College. “The SRJC Libraries team is truly exceptional in their focused mission to foster academic excellence and success for students. It is a great honor that their dedication to student learning and innovative programming has received this national recognition. It is the little things each of us do every day in serving our students, our institution, and our community that make the difference.”
The University of Maryland Libraries, recipient in the university category, was selected for its contributions to digital humanities scholarship and its engagement with students, faculty, and outside partners.
“The University of Maryland Libraries stand out amongst their peers for the development of a robust library staff culture of innovation, as well as their extensive collaborations and engagement with the university’s core curriculum, students, and faculty,” said Middleton. “The influence and impact of the libraries’ partnerships can be seen throughout the institution.”
“The libraries successfully built a relationship with the Student Government Association that resulted in increased funding to the library along with a successful crowdfunding campaign that resulted in $13,000 from the student body to support the Top Textbooks Program,” Middleton continued. “Additionally, the $60 million ‘Fearless Fundraising Campaign’ the library is participating in to endow library fellows, digitization, archivists, and the Top Textbooks Program illustrates their ongoing commitment to sustaining digital services in the future.”
The libraries’ contributions to the university’s digital humanities scholarship are illuminated by numerous projects and programs. Through its GIS and Spatial Data Center, the library has facilitated a student mapathon of buildings and roads in international disaster areas as part of a broader humanitarian effort to assist Doctors without Borders, and is working to create a virtual wayfinding app to link coordinates with library rooms, services, and call numbers to help users find what they need.
The libraries are also conducting numerous digitization efforts of its special collections, including historic Maryland newspapers, AFL-CIO newspapers, back issues of its student newspaper, rare audio recordings of community-based radio stations from the National Federation of Community Broadcasting Archives, and materials related to Alice in Wonderland. Additionally, since 2005 the libraries have partnered with the National Diet Library of Japan to preserve and provide digital access to publications issued in Japan during the first four years of the Allied Occupation from 1945-1949.
“My colleagues and I are thrilled and grateful to receive this prestigious award from ACRL,” said Adriene I. Lim, dean of libraries at the University of Maryland. “We strive to ensure that our values of compassion and inclusion drive our strategies and that a culture of innovation informs the design of our library programs and services. For this reason, it’s even more of an honor and validation when other library leaders recognize our work, because they know the dedication and resourcefulness it takes to advance those aspirations every day.”
Each library will receive $3,000 and a plaque, to be presented at an award ceremony held on each recipient’s campus.
Additional information on the award, along with a list of past recipients, is available in the awards section of the ACRL website.
The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 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 web, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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