This page is older archived content from an older version of the Emerald Publishing website.

As such, it may not display exactly as originally intended.

For Librarians, by Librarians - Emerald shares Award Winning Advice

About the awards

For over ten years Emerald has supported professionals and researchers in librarianship through the American Library Association (ALA) awards, as part of the company's long-standing commitment to the library community.

These awards highlight the key role librarians play in academic institutions by recognizing their commitment, contribution and development to the field.
Emerald provides a cash prize for three different ALA awards:

  • The Library & Information Technology Association (LITA)/Library Hi-Tech award.
  • The Reference & User Services Association (RUSA) Business Reference & Services Section (BRASS) Emerald Research Grant Award.
  • The Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL) Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Section Publication of the Year Award.

The awards were presented to the winners on Sunday 28th June at the ALA annual conference in San Francisco. We caught up with the winners to find out more about them and their award-winning work, and their advice for people starting out in a career in librarianship.

You can read each winner's interview here...

Image: David Walker Image: Emily Drabinski Image: Jason Dewland Image: Cindy Elliott
David Walker Emily Drabinski Jason Dewland Cindy Elliott


LITA/Library Hi-Tech award for Outstanding Communication in Library and Information Technology – David Walker

Image: David WalkerEmerald Group Publishing and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) sponsor the award, which recognizes outstanding individuals or institutions for their long-term contributions in the area of Library and Information Science technology and its application.

David Walker was chosen as the 2015 winner of this award in recognition of his dedication and commitment to developing the open source library portal application Xerxes over the past decade.

My experience and my day to day role at present

I've worked in the field of librarianship for over 13 years.  Much of that time has been focused on developing and deploying open source applications, most significantly Xerxes. 

I oversee library technology services that are used across all 23 campuses at California State University (CSU).  We are currently embarking on a massive project to migrate all CSU libraries to a shared library services platform.

My work on the open source library portal application Xerxes

In 2004 I built an application to improve  the user interface to Metalib (the federated search system developed and sold by Ex Libris) as we wanted more control over the end-user interface and to add further features and functionality. 

It was adopted by several institutions worldwide and we still use it today.  Like most academic libraries, we've replaced our older federated search system with a new generation library discovery system but we continue to use Xerxes as the interface due to the control it gives us over what the end-user sees – we can change the back-end search engine and the end-user experience remains the same.

Xerxes lets us easily explore the integration of library resources with other campus systems, especially learning management systems. Xerxes helps academic libraries to better promote and provide access to library materials, which cannot be easily done by library systems vendors.

Winning this award and how it will impact my work

It's a great honour to even be nominated for this award, let alone win it!  Many of the previous recipients have been pioneers and important thought leaders in the field of library technology, so to be included among that group is quite humbling.

A positive change I've made recently that I'd recommend to others

I think it's important to always promote your work and to make as much of it available to others as possible.  In library technology, especially, people need to make more of their work open source so others can benefit from it – even if your programming code isn't as elegant as you might like. 

Getting your ideas and name out there will make you part of the conversation. And that will ultimately connect you to people and projects that will help advance your career.

Three tips I'd give to someone starting out in librarianship

  1. For a career in library technology, I recommend beefing up your programming skills – either through formal course work or learning on your own.  Whether you work with open source applications or commercial library systems, there is a huge need for custom programming.  It's easier than ever for a systems librarian or library technologist to come up with a useful script or a complete application that can positively impact the library.

  2. Try to contribute to an open source project – working with more experienced programmers and developers will help improve your own programming skills.  Even if you aren't interested in programming, there's a big need for improving documentation or contributing to these projects in other ways.
  3. Participate in LITA and groups like Code4Lib, which can connect you to like-minded people, as much as possible. The more you can get your head up and see what others are doing and the current trends affecting libraries, the more inspiration you can take from others for your own work.

If you have something to say about digital technology, Library Hi Tech could be publishing your views.

The journal features articles which explore new tools for managing and giving access to information, innovative ways of understanding interactions with users in both digital and hybrid environments, and unconventional approaches to library and information environments.

For the latest news, publication alerts and debates, join our online community: Follow @EmeraldLibrary

ACRL Instruction Section Ilene F. Rockman Publication of the Year Award – Emily Drabinski

Image: Emily DrabinskiAssociation of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Instruction Section Ilene F. Rockman Publication of the Year Award honours the late Dr. Ilene Rockman, a renowned leader in information literacy.

The award recognizes an outstanding article or book on instruction or information literacy in an academic library environment from the last two years.

This year's winner is Emily Drabanski for her article "Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction".

My experience and my day to day role at present

I graduated from Syracuse University's MLS programme in 2003. My first job, as an indexer at the H.W. Wilson Social Science Index, is where I got my love of thinking about and working with structures of language and knowledge.

I started working as an instruction and reference librarian in 2004 at Sarah Lawrence College and have been at Long Island University (LIU), Brooklyn since 2008. I am currently our Coordinator of Instruction, organizing curriculum-integrated information literacy instruction across the campus.

About my article, "Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction"

This article came out of my master's thesis in the composition and rhetoric programme here at LIU Brooklyn. I have long been interested in this paradox of naming, that we must name things in order to render them objects of analysis, and yet in that rendering we undo the essential contingency of things themselves. Language requires us to fix things that are always in motion. It's a thought puzzle that I think about all the time.

For this article, I was interested in the challenge teaching librarians face as we attempt to help students master knowledge organization structures while simultaneously troubling the fixity of the structures themselves. How do librarians work with the standards created by our professional bodies in order to create for ourselves teaching and learning contexts that are more specific and local?

Winning this award and how it will impact my work

I could not be more shocked to win this prize! The kind of research and writing I do is speculative, analytic, and does not lead to easy implementation of the next new best thing. I take a very long time to read, think, and write, and to have those efforts affirmed is really pretty extraordinary. Winning this tells me I'm doing something right, so I will continue to write pretty abstract things that are more focused on changing how we think about our work than how we do it.

A positive change I've made recently that I'd recommend to others

I now set aside half an hour every day to read. I think reading is really important – it helps us see the conversations that are happening so we can begin to join them. Reading more has been the best change I've made in the last year.

Three tips I'd give to someone starting out in librarianship

  1. Find something in the field to care about beyond simply getting a job.

    (I know the job matters, believe me, I know, I went into the field seeking stable employment so I know that's the motivation for most of us. But something beyond the job matters too, if you want to stay in the field and be happy).

  2. Stay curious.
  3. And ask lots of questions.

These are essential skills for librarians, though I think they'd serve people well no matter the career.

Emerald's Library Studies eJournals collection provides a comprehensive resource for librarians, information scientists, educators and students worldwide, spanning disciplines such as library management, library technology and information science.

Selected articles are published in partnership with The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and under an informal arrangement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Libraries Initiative.

Of the titles in this collection, 40 per cent are indexed by Thomson Reuters (ISI), including Library Hi Tech, Journal of Documentation and Interlending & Document Supply.

For the latest news, publication alerts and debates, join our online community: Follow @EmeraldLibrary

RUSA/ BRASS Emerald Research Grant Award – Jason Dewland and Cindy Elliott

Image: Jason DewlandImage: Cindy ElliottThe American Library Association's (ALA) Reference & User Services Association (RUSA) Business Reference & Services Section (BRASS) Emerald Research Grant is awarded to an individual or team seeking support to conduct research in business librarianship. Winners are awarded a $3,000 cash prize donated by Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

This year's winners are Jason Dewland, Assistant Librarian, University of Arizona & Cindy Elliott, Engineering & Innovation Librarian, University of Arizona for their study, "Review of Research Methods Employed by Start-Ups"

Our experience and our day to day roles at present

Jason and I are both in the Research & Learning department for the University of Arizona Libraries which is externally facing; we consult with students and faculty in departments to embed instruction and research-focused assignments into the curriculum, consult on student and faculty research and are selectors for new content to license or purchase.  

I focus on the College of Engineering and Eller College of Management Marketing department as well as Tech Launch Arizona and have been an assistant librarian at the University of Arizona since 2012. I received my MLIS from the University of Arizona, and BS from the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona.

Prior to joining the University of Arizona, I worked as a corporate and biomedical research librarian for Ventana Medical Systems and Hoffman La Roche. Prior to entering the library profession, I was a marketing research & communications professional.

Jason has been an assistant librarian at the University of Arizona since 2012. He serves as a liaison to the Eller College of Management, Tech Launch Arizona, and Innovate UA. He received his MLIS from Wayne State University; his MBA from the University of Maryland; and his BA from Boston University.

Before moving to Tucson to work at the University of Arizona he was the Business & Economics Librarian at the University of Mississippi.  Prior to entering the library profession, Jason worked in the automotive and IT industries and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Macedonia and Ukraine.

About our study, "Review of Research Methods Employed by Start-ups"

We are both passionate about supporting the entrepreneurial community both on campus and off campus in Southern Arizona, and we saw a need to understand the information habits and needs of newer businesses who are trying to grow and develop so that we can share that information with our community and others who want to grow their local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Winning this award and how it will impact our work

We are really excited about winning this award as it means that we will be able to carry out this research that will help librarians to better understand how to engage, connect and support local businesses. 

A positive change we've made recently that we'd recommend to others

We are trying to work closer with the public library and local entrepreneurial groups in Tucson.  We have found that there is a combination of a large need for business research and a lack of understanding of what tools are available. 

By working with these groups we have learned a lot about the entrepreneurial environment in Tucson as well as a better understanding of the tools and resources needs for these groups.

Three tips we'd give to someone starting out in librarianship

  1. Be fearless – don't talk yourself out of something before you start.
  2. Exercise curiosity – try to stay open to what others share with you, and don't dismiss new ideas immediately.
  3. Seek out groups of people that are different than yourself – we have gained a lot from working with people from different backgrounds.

Reference Services Review (RSR) is a leading journal dedicated to the enrichment and advancement of reference knowledge and the improvement of professional practice.

Ranging from case studies to conceptual papers, its articles cover all aspects of reference and library user services in a digital age, and it is considered valued reading by the majority of North American library schools with its "au courant" focus, and around 2000  articles are downloaded each week.

Reviewers for the journal include distinguished practitioners, managers, administrators, educators, and scholars from library and information studies and higher education, as well as other fields.

For the latest news, publication alerts and debates, join our online community: Follow @EmeraldLibrary