U libraries honored for excellence, innovation

The University is the first Big Ten recipient of the Association of College Research Libraries award.

An ambition to provide more than just books has gained the University of Minnesota Libraries national recognition. At an award ceremony Wednesday, Senior Vice President and Provost Tom Sullivan and Wendy Lougee, University librarian, received the Excellence in Academic Libraries Award from the Association of College Research Libraries President Erika Linke. The University of Minnesota is the first in the Big Ten to receive the award. ACRL, a branch of the American Library Association, accepts nominations from universities, colleges and community colleges, and gives an award to one school in each category. According to Marlo Welshons, libraries spokeswoman, University Libraries had to coordinate a ceremony to receive the award, which included $3,000 used to cover the cost of the celebration. Students, faculty and library employees feasted on 450 cupcakes as members of the Northrop Brass, a University quintet, introduced the award recipients with Minnesota fanfare. Lougee cited several library projects that led to the tribute, including the Ublog and SMART Learning Commons. Innovative projects such as these demonstrate the librariesâÄô commitment to broadening its services to cater to the changing needs of its patrons, she said. SMART âÄî a collaborative effort between University Libraries and the Office of the Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Education âÄî offers a âÄúdynamicâÄù space for students to use computers, receive tutoring from peers and check out electronic equipment for classes, Jim Hatten, multimedia consultant for SMART, said. HattenâÄôs said he thinks SMART sets Minnesota apart from other libraries. The new âÄúreality of the worldâÄù calls for a bigger emphasis in interactivity as opposed to quiet, solitary study, he said. University Libraries have seen this and have taken steps to address it. Amanda Bartelt, a sophomore public relations major, works in SMART as a peer consultant; she gives writing assistance and tutors in Spanish three times each week. Bartelt said SMART is a âÄúgreat resourceâÄù because students can get help without meeting with a professor, eliminating the intimidation factor. The tutors offer help in a wide variety of subjects, which adds to a positive experience, she said. Provost Sullivan, addressing those congregated during the ceremony, called the award an âÄúexceptional tributeâÄù because it highlights the librariesâÄô goal to become an engaged leader in the academic community. To library employees, credited for their role in moving the libraries forward, Sullivan said, âÄúYou have changed libraries for the better, for the future.âÄù