George Mason University librarian receives I Love My Librarian Award

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/10/2022

Contact: Macey Morales, Deputy Director, Communications and Marketing Office, American Library Association, mmorales@ala.org

George Oberle recognized with national public service honor 

CHICAGO – George D. Oberle, director of the Center for Mason Legacies, history librarian, and assistant term professor at George Mason University (GMU), is a winner of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award. Recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) for his amplification of historically underrepresented voices and the dedication he brings to uncovering and teaching about hidden histories, Oberle was selected from more than 1,300 nominations from library users across the country. 

Applying his dedicated scholarship in history and his commitment to social justice, Oberle has transformed his campus community and its understanding of GMU’s and its namesake’s racial history through his work establishing and leading the Center for Mason Legacies (CML), an interdisciplinary and collaborative research center housed in the university’s Fenwick Library that seeks to preserve and examine the legacy of George Mason IV, his ancestors and heirs, and the people he enslaved. 

Oberle’s work with the CML has culminated in numerous educational resources for the GMU community, including a robust website with an array of primary source materials and a memorial recognizing the individuals enslaved by George Mason in the center of campus. As his nominators note, “By his example and his accomplishments, George has shown that what starts as a small library project can indeed grow into an important asset supported by the entire university.” 

“Dr. Oberle’s work with the Center is remarkably pointed and relevant to these times as he and the team work towards uncovering our hidden histories, expanding our historical record and knowledge of both the past and the present, documenting current racial tensions, and seeking a more just future,” his nominators wrote. “He works directly in the spaces combatting erasure and suppression and inspires students and faculty alike as he does so. In these efforts, he embodies not only the time-tested tradition and unique role of libraries in society as knowledge-preservers, but also the knowledge-creation and discovery-learning traditions of research universities.” 

Oberle and this year’s nine other honorees will each receive a $5,000 cash prize, a $750 donation to their library, and complimentary registration to ALA’s LibLearnX. The virtual award ceremony will take place during the conference at 3:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, and will be available to stream live at https://www.youtube.com/user/AmLibraryAssociation.  

Since the award’s inception in 2008, library users have shared more than 20,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to promote literacy, expand access to technology and support diversity and inclusion in their communities. Information regarding previous award winners can be found on the I Love My Librarian website at?http://www.ilovelibraries.org/lovemylibrarian.? 

Carnegie Corporation of New York generously sponsors the I Love My Librarian Award. The New York Public Library also supports the award. ALA administers the award through its Communications and Marketing Office, which promotes the value of libraries and librarians.? 

About Carnegie Corporation of New York 
Carnegie Corporation of New York was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation’s work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: education, international peace, and a strong democracy. 

About The New York Public Library 
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves nearly 17 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at?www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support. 

About the American Library Association 
The American Library Association is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org. 

For more about this year’s award winners, read the press release here and visit the award site here.

Libraries selected to participate in Leading the Charge grant

FAIRFAX, VA – October 11, 2021: The University Libraries is pleased to announce our participation in Hampton University’s William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library’s IMLS funded project grant, Leading the Charge: Advancing the Recruitment, Retention and Inclusion of People of Color within the Library and Information Science field.  

The Leading the Charge Grant pairs project participants with an EDI consultant to receive guidance on developing, implementing, and assessing an initiative which focuses on equity, diversity, or inclusion of POC within their organizations. Mason Libraries’ application, Attracting and Engaging a Diverse Student Workforce at George Mason University Libraries, focuses on efforts to improve recruitment of students of color for undergraduate and graduate student positions within our library units.

Attracting and Engaging a Diverse Student Workforce will be led by Kathleen Bell, Head, Assessment and Planning, and Katara Hofmann, Peer Referral Coach Manager and chair of the Libraries’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. Of the grant, Hofmann commented, “On behalf of myself and the DEI Council, we are pleased to support the Libraries’ participation in Leading the Charge. As a former student employee, I look forward to working with our colleagues to create a welcoming environment and further employment opportunities for students of color at the university.”

The Libraries was one of ten institutions whose proposals were selected out of a national, competitive process. Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, John Zenelis, remarked, “My colleagues and I welcome this opportunity to engage with and support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at a more focused and sustained level, as well as the opportunity to partner with higher education colleagues across the nation. Ensuring our workforce in the university’s libraries – from student assistants to all levels – is diverse and reflective of our institution is a prominent goal of our university and the Libraries. We want all Mason students to know they are welcome not only in any part of the university’s library system, but in the library and information science profession, which historically has not been reflective of our country’s diverse population.”

Selectees included a combination of university libraries, public libraries, and other library networks. The project results from all participating institutions will serve as a collection of actionable initiatives which can be shared throughout the field of library and information science.

For additional information about the grant, the project personnel, and participants, visit https://hamptonu.libguides.com/leadingthecharge

Leading the Charge is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant number RE-246407-OLS-20.

Margaret Lam receives PAM Achievement Award

Congratulations to Margaret Lam, Physical Sciences & STEM Data Librarian!

At the 2021 Special Libraries Association (SLA) Annual Conference, the Physics-Astronomy-Mathematics (PAM) Community presented Margaret Lam with the PAM Achievement Award on Friday, August 13, 2021. Lam is the 23rd recipient of this honor since it was first awarded in 1997. The purpose of the PAM Achievement Award is to recognize those members who have made outstanding contributions to the PAM Community, and whose professional work is marked by distinction and dedication to librarianship in astronomy, mathematics and/or physics.

Anya Bartelmann, Chair of the PAM Awards Committee and Astrophysics, Mathematics, and Physics Librarian at the Lewis Science Library & Fruth Plasma Physics Library of Princeton University, presented the award to Lam, praising her dedication and expertise in her fields, active contributions to PAM, organizational skills, strategic planning, and service orientation. Bartelmann’s full remarks will be included in the November issue of the PAM Bulleton (published via PAMnet).

Lam, who has been with Mason Libraries since 2010, is a member of the Sciences and Technology Team in the Learning, Research and Engagement (LRE) division. John Walsh, Associate University Librarian for LRE, called the award “a truly major achievement! With this award, Margaret is now part of a cadre of remarkable professionals. Past winners are all luminaries in Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics librarianship or leaders in STEM academic or societal publishing. ”

Kim Hoffman, Lead for the Sciences and Technology Team, remarked, “Margaret is deserving of this award, and I am so glad to see her expertise acknowledged by her professional colleagues.”

Upon learning of Lam’s selection for this award, John Zenelis, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, commented, “Receiving notification of the PAM Awards Committee’s selection of Margaret was wonderful news. Margaret’s dedication to librarianship and to the Mason community is a testimony to her expertise, work ethic, and numerous professional contributions.”

Among her many accomplishments and in addition to her committee and community service, Lam has appeared in numerous publications, presented at conferences, managed collections development in a variety of STEM disciplines, and provided innumerable research and reference support and consultation to faculty and students.

Lam has her BA and MA in Chemistry and her Master of Library Science, from Queens College, The City University of New York.

Center for Mason Legacies releases “Black Lives Next Door” preliminary findings

The Center for Mason Legacies (CML) invites you to explore their newly created digital project, Black Lives Next Door: George Mason and Northern Virginia in an Age of Disparity and Opportunity (BLND). Building on work that began in 2020, BLND is presenting its first set of findings and inviting our community to take a journey through our “pasts next door” and related stories. Read the full announcement here.

About the Center for Mason Legacies: CML is an interdisciplinary and collaborative research center established by the University Libraries and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. CML’s mission is to preserve and examine the legacy of George Mason IV (1725-1792), his ancestors and heirs, and the people he enslaved. Learn more about the center here and their various research projects here.

FRAME II awarded $1,175,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

“Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education II” awarded a $1,175,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

By law, any material required for the education of a disabled student must be made accessible for them in a timely manner. In the United States, the legal obligation to provide accessible learning materials falls on individual educational institutions, and universities and colleges across the country are scrambling to meet their responsibilities to students with special information-access needs. The staff of disability services offices (DSOs) spend a great deal of time and effort remediating printed texts, transforming them into a variety of electronic formats to improve access for students with print disabilities. Because many of the same texts are commonly assigned at multiple institutions, the result is a wasteful duplication of effort as the DSO staff at each independent university must start the remediation work over again.

For the last two years, the University of Virginia Library has led a multi-institutional project to address this problem. With a two-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, University Librarian John Unsworth initiated an effort to create a web-based infrastructure allowing DSOs to share remediated texts, in order to reduce their nationwide duplication of effort, and thereby make it possible for the staff in these offices to achieve better outcomes for students in higher education.

That collective effort, known as “FRAME,” will now continue for another two years and expand to include new partners, thanks to a grant of $1,175,000 from The Mellon Foundation for a second phase dubbed “Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education II.” Representatives of the DSO and library staff at Ohio State University will join their counterparts from George Mason University, Northern Arizona University, Texas A&M University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Virginia, along with a development and project management team based at the UVA Library. Much of the group’s work will concentrate on expanding and improving EMMA (Educational Materials Made Accessible), a membership-based secure repository for remediated texts, and developing workflows wherein librarians and DSO staff will cooperate in uploading texts to the repository.

“For too long, most academic libraries have left accessibility to their colleagues in disability services, even though it is all about providing information resources for teaching and research. The FRAME project seeks to establish a partnership between libraries and disability service offices, to ensure that remediated content is preserved, organized, and made discoverable for re-use, reducing the duplication of staff effort in order to improve service to students (and faculty) with disabilities,” states Unsworth, who is continuing his role as principal investigator from the first FRAME grant.

Also continuing to support the project will be three major digital repositories: Bookshare, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive. Through a federated search interface, these repositories provide EMMA users with texts that have already been remediated for users with print disabilities or that are machine-readable and suitable for further remediation by DSO staff — a big advantage over having to scan a printed book. Benetech, the parent company of Bookshare, supplied much of the search infrastructure for EMMA in the first phase of the FRAME project and has committed in the second phase to sharing certain cutting-edge technologies to automate parts of the labor-intensive remediation process. In the second year of FRAME II, an additional repository will join the collaboration: the Accessible Content e-Portal sponsored by the Ontario Council of University Libraries.

Another important element of the project is the cooperation of the university presses affiliated with six of the participating universities: George Mason, Illinois, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wisconsin. As publishers of texts that might be used in higher education, the presses have all committed to contributing machine-readable versions of their publications to EMMA or one of its federated repositories.

John Unsworth is joined by FRAME II co-principal investigator J. Stephen Downie, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences. Professor Downie will lead a new educational initiative, developing curricular materials for professional education in library schools. The materials created by Downie and a team of expert collaborators will train library and information professionals in the information needs of students, faculty, and other library users with disabilities. Professor Downie states, “It is truly inspiring to be working with all the project partners at Illinois, Virginia and beyond to realize the promise of the FRAME II vision.”

Read more about the project’s beginnings in 2019 and Mason’s involvement.