Julia M. Gelfand, applied sciences and engineering librarian at the University of California (UC)-Irvine, is the 2021 ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year. The award, sponsored by GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO, recognizes an outstanding member of the library profession who has made a significant national or international contribution to academic/research librarianship and library development.
Gelfand will receive a $5,000 award and will be recognized during the ACRL 2021 virtual conference.
“Julia Gelfand, long-time applied science and engineering librarian at the University of California-Irvine, has spent more than four decades shaping research librarianship for the better,” noted ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award Committee Chair Dennis Clark of the Library of Congress. “It is because of her transformative contributions to her university, the profession, and scientific inquiry itself that the committee named her as the 2021 Academic/Research Librarian of the Year.
“Julia is known as a relationship builder, as is evidenced by her tireless and successful fundraising efforts for ACRL as a member of its Conference Colleagues Committee,” Clark added. “In addition, she has been an active scholar, board member, reviewer, and editor. Perhaps nothing can summarize her contributions better than the citation when she was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2020, which states that the honor is ‘for significant and distinguished contributions to professional societies, advancements to the study of scientific publishing and grey literature, and service as a distinguished science librarian.’”
“I am so moved to receive this recognition,” Gelfand said. “This award signifies all the professional values I hold most dear – commitment to service, embrace of multiple literacies, diversity, collaboration, intellectual freedom, new technologies, and innovation in the spirit of learning. When I reflect on how inspired I have been by previous recipients, each of whom have charted a special path through their own accomplishments and shared common pride we have associated with academic libraries, I am gratified. I am deeply grateful to all those I have worked with and what a career high this honor is to treasure.”
Gelfand exemplifies excellence in academic and research librarianship through her leadership, service, and passion for the profession. Throughout her decades-long career, she has been a leader at both UC-Irvine, where she is greatly respected across the campus community and received the 2015 UC‐Irvine Engagement Award for Staff Service, and in the academic library community. Her professional interests and contributions focus on eScience and data management, scholarly communication, publishing and digital libraries, collection development and science librarianship, and grey literature, among other areas. Her knowledge and expertise in these areas led to Gelfand being recognized for her indispensable contributions to scholarly communication and collaborative collection development efforts at UC-Irvine and across the UC system.
The extent to which Gelfand’s research and scholarship has been influential can be seen in the nearly 125 times she has been a sought-after speaker at conferences, both nationally and internationally, as well as her more than 25 journal articles and other publications. As a highly‐respected science librarian, she has presented on a wide range of topics, including sustainable open science and open access, maps and map librarianship, library professional development, publisher and dealer relationships, artificial intelligence systems, library collections and spaces, and the creation of synergies between public and academic libraries at the Charleston Conference, International Conference on Grey Literature, International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Conference, American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, the American Association of Higher Education Annual Conference, and many more. Gelfand is also a regular fixture as a presenter at ACRL conferences and the ALA Annual Conference.
While she boasts an extensive publication record, Gelfand’s scholarly endeavors have been especially influential in the area of grey literature. Her scholarly work has considered the topic from many perspectives, including information and communication sources, information mining, and data preservation in a wide variety of library science and higher education publications. In addition, Gelfand has served as an associate editor for The Grey Journal, the flagship journal for the international grey literature community, since its launch in 2004.
Gelfand has translated this expertise into an extensive record of tireless, passionate service to the profession. Within ACRL, she served as a director-at-large on the association’s Board of Directors (2013-17) along with serving as vice-chair/chair-elect (2004-05), chair (2005-06), and past chair (2006-07) of the Science and Technology Section (STS). Gelfand also held positions on a variety of additional STS committees and groups over the course of her career. Continuing her emphasis on research and scholarship, she volunteered as a member (2017-19), vice-chair (2019-20), and chair (2020-21) of the ACRL Publications Coordinating Committee.
Gelfand has contributed greatly to the success of the biennial ACRL Conference, serving as Colleagues Committee co-chair for the 2009, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021 conferences. She also served as a member of the 2005, 2007, and 2011-2021 ACRL Conference Committee. Her work on the Colleagues Committee in securing robust funding for the conference by creating close relationships with other members of the scholarly communications ecosystem was especially noted by her nominators.
“I am delighted to recognize Julia Gelfand with ACRL’s top individual award,” said ACRL Interim Executive Director Kara J. Malenfant. “Her selfless commitment to scholarship and service has been a major benefit to the profession over the course of her career. I particularly appreciate Julia’s numerous contributions to ACRL, especially her work in helping ensure the financial success of many ACRL conferences.”
In addition to her work with ACRL, Gelfand has served as chair or committee member for groups in the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, Society for Scholarly Publishing, and IFLA, along with serving as secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Information, Computing, and Communication Section. She has served the library community through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Library Advisory Board and numerous ALA appointments in groups such as the International Relations Round Table and Reference & User Services Association. Gelfand was also honored as a 2020 National Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Prior to joining UC-Irvine in 1981, Gelfand served as reference librarian and assistant head of reference at the University of Denver Penrose Libraries (1977-81).
Gelfand received her A.B. in History and Sociology from Goucher College and M.S.L.S. and M.A. in History from Case Western Reserve University.
The ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year award dates back to 1978, and past award recipients include John E. Ulmschneider (2020); Kaetrena Davis Kendrick (2019); David W. Lewis (2018); Loretta Parham (2017); Susan K. Nutter (2016); Robert A. Seal (2015); Tim Bucknall (2014); Patricia Iannuzzi (2013); Paula T. Kaufman (2012); Janice Welburn (2011); Maureen Sullivan (2010); Gloriana St. Clair (2009); Peter Hernon (2008); Lizabeth (Betsy) Wilson (2007); Ray English (2006); Ravindra Nath (R. N.) Sharma (2005); Tom Kirk (2004); Ross Atkinson, (2003); and Shelley Phipps (2002).
For more information regarding the award, or a complete list of past recipients, please visit the awards section of the ACRL website.
The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for academic libraries and library workers. Representing nearly 10,000 individuals and libraries, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products, and services to help those working in academic and research libraries 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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