The Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award has been awarded to librarians in the field of distance learning since 2004. The award has allowed librarians to share their knowledge and experiences with their libraries, their universities, and beyond. Read what past recipients have to say about winning the award below.
2014 – Fred Stielow, American Public University System
2013 – Jane Hutton, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
2012 – Johanna Ruth Tuñón, Nova Southeastern University
2011 – Cassandra Kvenild, University of Wyoming
2010 – Thomas E. Abbott, University of Maine at Augusta
2009 – Jack Fritts, Benedictine University
2008 – Harvey Gover, Washington State University Tri-Cities
2007 – Anne Marie Casey, Central Michigan University
2006 – Monica Hines Craig, Central Michigan University
2005 – Martha Kreszock, Appalachian State University
2004 – Susan S. Lowe, University of Maine System
Fred Stielow (2014)
Winning the Routledge Distance Librarian Award for 2014 means a couple of things to me. On one hand, it signifies a ongoing paradigm shift and likely the future prospects for academic libraries. Rather than adjunct to a central facility, my 21st-century institution emerged in short order as the main library in the brave new world of online universities. We proactively and entrepreneurially moved from the primacy of research to emphasize classroom engagement. The results were unprecedented. Library use expanded 3,000% in less than a decade. Efforts to create a curriculum-wide set of electronic course guides and engage faculty saved millions of dollars, but also significantly enhanced course readings. Moreover, they served as research launching pads. APUS database use rose to the highest echelons with over 80 million annual searches and well beyond that of most research libraries.
On the other hand, most of these advances lay with a related strategic shift. We consciously moved away from massive collection building and toward librarians as the heart of a reinvented institution for the Web Age. Indeed, this award is more properly a reflection of a determined effort to hire what in 8 short years became the leading corps of online subject-specialist librarians in the business. The award really belongs to them, but I’m keeping it :-).
Jane Hutton (2013)
To say I was surprised to learn I had been selected for the Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award would be an understatement. I knew most of the prior recipients and to me, they were mentors — librarians with a wealth of experience serving distance learners. I have felt extremely honored to be nominated, chosen, and included among these other award winners. For each of us, speaking up for library services for the “invisible” distance learners at our educational institutions is a continuing and gratifying process. Receiving the award validates those efforts and provides additional publicity about the importance of those services. Additionally, the monetary award to attend the ALA Annual Conference is particularly valuable in these economic times, enabling the recipient to continue his/her professional development and to participate in key mentoring groups such as the ACRL Distance Learning Section.
Johanna Tunon (2012)
Winning the Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award (2012) has been a great honor. I value the role that DLS/ACRL has played in supporting and advocating for distance librarians in the profession. In the past, the award has gone to a number of distance librarians who have promoted standards and research for librarians working with distance students whether they are on campus, at field-based sites, or online, and I am honored to be included in their ranks! In the last analysis, I believe that distance librarians play an important role in providing access to information and promoting the skills needed for distance students to be life-long learners in a quickly changing world, and I hope to use the opportunities that winning this award has made possible to further this cause.
Cassandra Messersmith Kvenild (2011)
Not long before the winners of the award were announced, my boss shared the nomination letters with me that she had gathered for the Routledge Award. It’s a cliche to say “it was an honor just to be nominated” but it is also true. Reading those letters was one of the most humbling, grateful moments of my career. That my outstanding colleagues would take time to write about my work, and for me to learn how much they valued it, was amazing. If you’re thinking about nominating someone, do it!
Now, on winning. It’s completely unexpected. And no one tells you this, but receiving the award is an ongoing process. You’ll get the award at ALA, of course, but then your department or the Libraries will want to honor you, and maybe the Trustees will want to meet you, and the Deans get excited, and there is a lot of award hubbub. The most exciting thing about this process is that you can tell the story of how your library supports distance learning to multiple audiences. You can highlight the people and processes that help you accomplish your goals, and you can shine a bright light on the wonderful student-centered, technologically advanced work getting done at your institution. You don’t win as an individual so much as you represent the work of many librarians, support staff, distance educators, instructional designers, and students. It is a fantastic opportunity to share the best parts of your job with influential people.
Tom Abbott (2010)
As a founding member of the then Extended Learning Section of ACRL circa 1990, I was pleased and nervous to receive the organization’s annual award twenty years later in 2010. As a person who generally thinks good ideas and good people deserve support – because it makes all of us better and more successful, I’ve pretty much stayed in the background and avoided public recognition for much of my career in higher education (going on 39 years now.) That said however, on the occasions when I am recognized for my contributions, it is welcome, a bit embarrassing, and it often leaves me wondering if I’ve done enough to warrant the recognition.
I guess that reaction comes from by blue collar upbringing in a family who worked in the mills of Maine, a mother who learned English for the first time in first grade and a dad who usually worked two jobs so we could have the life he wanted for us. We were always expected to do a good job, make sure it got done, help my brother and sister, and then do some more. Then we did it for the praise, a thank you and maybe a dollar, but it also was for the feeling that you contributed to the family or the job at hand or the community.
I thought it strange in high school when the Student Council advisor, an English teacher who I thought barely knew me asked me to run for president my senior year. I did and with her help won the election and even managed to learn how to run a meeting about half way through the year. Being seen as a leader is certainly a good thing, and I very much appreciate being recognized with the 2010 Routledge Award, but I still think it’s mostly about helping our organization and its members do a good job.
Jack Fritts (2009)
I think the biggest impact on me was hearing the comments Harvey collected in preparing the nomination and in making the presentation. I’ve excerpted part of his speech below. I’ve never thought that I was doing anything special or different; the things I did and try to continue doing are just the things that seem to be needed. I’m always a bit surprised when I meet someone whose response is, ”So you’re Jack!” I’ve been actively involved in distance learning for a long time, and it always seemed to be the natural way of things. Now the rest of the library world is starting to catch up with us in recognizing that all library service is distance service. I just keep on doing the things I’ve done and trying to answer people’s questions as best I can.
However, the biggest surprise came in the letters I received from those whom I had invited to write in support of his nomination. Not only did they provide glowing reminiscences of Jack’s many contributions, but each one recalled an instance in which Jack had helped him or her with a project, or in making a significant professional decision. It’s Jack’s mentoring that has brought great positive impact on the lives of his colleagues, co-workers, and staff members, and which provides the “frosting on the cake,” if you will, of his already strong qualifications for this award. Indeed, Jack’s accomplishments have been numerous, far reaching, and highly significant, both in the individual lives he has touched and to the profession as a whole.
Harvey Gover (2008)
To say the very least, this was one of the happiest and most triumphant moments in my entire life, let alone my entire career! Whenever one receives recognition of this magnitude, and for service that spans close to two decades, among ones first thoughts is remembering all those individuals who helped make possible the achievements that led to the award. To paraphrase a former First Lady: “It takes a whole Section to mentor an award winning librarian!” At first, when I became active in ALA over twenty years ago, I visited several organizations in the Association before I settled in on DLS for my main focus. I chose DLS because of the friendly, open, accepting, and nurturing atmosphere that it maintained then and continues to maintain today.
Anne Marie Casey (2007)
When the committee chair informed me that I had been selected, I was thrilled. It felt like it was an acknowledgement from my peers for my professional work. I was proud and happy and that was enough for me. The big surprise for me was the pride my dean took in this award and the to-do my family made of it (11 family members travelled from New England to DC to be with me when I received it). I feel very honored to be a recipient of this award and realized from the response of others that the good feelings it generated spread beyond me to important people in my life. That makes receiving it even more special.
The impact for me was a feeling of gratitude that my peers recognized the work I have done in this field. My plaque hangs on my office wall and is a constant source of pride.
Monica Craig (2006)
I became a celebrity! My photo appeared in ACRL publications, and I was recognized by the CMU Library and University community. Also by local area newspapers and my church and civic organizations. The publicity provided an opportunity to share information on the duties of a modern-day Librarian.