This month, the NMRT Communications Committee is featuring the second installment of a new blog series—Authority File: Interviews with ALA Committee Chairs. This new series presents interviews of Chairs of different ALA committees, sharing their experiences as committee volunteers, their advice to new ALA members, and background about their committees. You may just discover your “next” ALA committee!
“Find your place and serve others and your profession to the fullest!”
–Susan Jennings, Chair, ALA Awards Committee
Susan Jennings, Chair of the ALA Awards Committee, has been a part of ALA for 13 years. She credits the NMRT for helping her gain her footing when she was a new ALA member and providing the springboard to serving on other committees. The following interview with Susan was conducted through email.
How long have you been an ALA member?
Since 2005 (13 years).
How long have you been Chair of the Awards Committee?
This is my first year.
Why did you decide to serve on this particular committee?
I was asked to serve by our incoming President. I was glad I was asked to serve since I love recognizing outstanding service and talent within librarianship.
Tell us about the Awards Committee—what are its goals or objectives, what are some of its current initiatives/projects?
The Awards Committee shepherds nineteen awards that are given across ALA to recognize outstanding service to libraries and our profession. The awards are sponsored across divisions and by a variety of individuals and vendors. These awards all recognize excellence across all libraries.
How is this committee structured?
The Awards Committee, guided by the chair and the ALA Staff Liaison, Cheryl Malden, oversees the work of the nineteen awards juries. It reviews proposals for the establishment of new awards and facilitates the awarding of the following awards at Annual Conference due to the work of the awards juries for each award. (See the end of this post for complete list!)
What have been your favorite projects while serving on this committee?
I’m actually looking forward to my favorite project! I can’t wait to give the awards to well deserving libraries and individuals at ALA Annual Conference.
What do you enjoy most about serving on this committee?
As I said earlier, I love recognizing outstanding service and talent within librarianship.
What would you say is the typical time commitment for serving on this committee?
The work of the ALA Awards committee is done year round although it seems that the bulk of the work will be done September – March.
What would you say is important for someone joining this committee to know?
Two things: It is very rewarding. And, volunteer for it while the volunteer window is open.
What advice would you give to someone considering serving on this committee in the future?
DO! It’s very rewarding!
Do you have any advice for new members of ALA in general?
Find your niche and get involved! NMRT provided me a wonderful way to cut my teeth on ALA Service. I was honored to serve as your NMRT Councilor and met and worked with wonderful people! From there, I had the confidence to explore other opportunities within ALA.
Is there anything I haven’t asked about that you would like to share?
Find your place and serve others and your profession to the fullest! You’ll be glad you did!
Under the Awards Committee, there are nineteen ALA Awards Juries:
Beta Phi Mu Award is presented to a faculty member of a library school or an individual for distinguished service to education in librarianship. The award includes $1,000 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: Beta Phi Mu International Library Science Honorary Society.
Y. Boyd Literary Awardis given to an author of a military novel that honors the service of American veterans during a time of war. The award includes $5,000 and a gold-framed citation, Donor: William Young Boyd II.
Melvil Dewey Medal honors an individual or group for a recent creative professional achievement in library management, training, cataloging and classification or the tools and techniques of librarianship. The award includes $2,000, Dewey Medal and a gold-framed citation. Donor: OCLC/Forest Press, Inc.
Ernest A. DiMattia Jr. Award for Innovation and Services to Community and Profession honors a public librarian who demonstrates leadership in anticipating emerging trends in services, products and technologies that will enhance the library’s position in its community. The award includes $5,000, and a gold-framed citation. Donor: The Family of Ernest A. DiMattia
EBSCO Midwinter – ALA Conference Sponsorship provides 5 – $1,500 awards to help librarians attend ALA’s Midwinter Meeting. To apply for this award, applicants must submit an essay of no more than 250 words addressing a specific topic. Donor: EBSCO Information Services.
EBSCO Annual – ALA Conference Sponsorship provides 7- $1,000 awards to help librarians attend ALA’s Annual Conference. To apply for this award, applicants must submit an essay of no more than 250 words addressing, “How will attending this ALA Conference contribute to your professional development?” Donor: EBSCO Information Services.
Equality Award honors an individual or group for an outstanding contribution that promotes equality in the library profession. The award includes $1,000 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: Scarecrow Press, Inc., a member of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
Excellence in Library Programming Award recognizes a library that demonstrates excellence in library programming by creating a cultural/thematic program type or program series, presented during the preceding year (September 1 – August 31), that engages the community in planning, sponsorship and/or active participation, addresses an identified community need, and has a measurable impact. The award includes $5,000 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: ALA Cultural Communities Fund.
Elizabeth Futas Catalyst for Change Award recognizes and honors a librarian for investing time and talent to make a positive change in the profession of librarianship. The award includes $1,000 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: Elizabeth Futas Memorial Fund. The biannual award application deadline is Feb. 1, 2020.
Gale a Cengage Company Financial Development Award is given to a library organization that exhibited meritorious achievement in carrying out a library financial development project to secure new funding resources for a public or academic library. The award includes $2,500 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: Gale a Cengage Company, Inc.
Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship honors an individual for contributing significantly to the public recognition and appreciation of librarianship through professional performance, teaching and/or writing. The award includes $1,000 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: Dr. Ken Haycock
Paul Howard Award for Courage honors a librarian, library board, library group or individual for exhibiting unusual courage benefiting library programs or services. The award, given every two years, includes $1,000 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: Paul Howard Memorial Fund. The biannual award application deadline is Feb. 1, 2019.
ALA Information Today Library of the Future Award honors a library, library consortium, group of librarians or support organization for innovative planning for, applications of or development of patron training programs about information technology in a library setting. The award includes $1,500 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: Information Today, Inc.
Joseph W. Lippincott Award is given to a librarian for distinguished service to the profession. To qualify, the librarian must display outstanding participation in professional library activities, notable published professional writing or other significant activities on behalf of the profession. The award includes $1,500 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: Joseph W. Lippincott, III.
Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that encourages artistic expression of the disability experience for young children, middle school and teens. One award will be given in each category. The book must portray some aspect of living with a disability or that of a friend or family member, whether the disability is physical, mental or emotional. Three recipients will each receive $5,000 and a plaque. Donor: Dr. Katherine Schneider.
Scholastic Library Publishing Award honors a librarian whose “unusual contribution” to the stimulation and guidance of children and young adult reading exemplifies outstanding achievement in the profession. The award includes $1,000 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: Scholastic Library Publishing.
Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity honors a librarian who has faced adversity with dignity and integrity intact. The award includes $10,000 and an odd symbolic object from Lemony Snicket’s private stash. Donor: Daniel Handler a.k.a. Lemony Snicket.
Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children honors an individual who has shown exceptional understanding and support of library service to children while having general management/supervisory/ administrative responsibility that has included public library service to children in its scope. The recipient will receive a plaque and recognition artifact. Donor: Peggy Sullivan.
H.W. Wilson Library Staff Development Grant is awarded to a library organization for a program to further its staff development goals and objectives. The ward includes $3,500 and a gold-framed citation. Donor: EBSCO Publishers.
For general information about these and other ALA awards, visit http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/
Submitted by: Alexandra Loewen