LAUC-LA Librarian of the Year: Alice Kawakami
LAUC-LA 2002 Librarian of the Year Award
Alice Kawakami, 2002 LAUC-LA Librarian of the Year!!!
The award presentation took place at the UCLA Faculty Center on April 25, 2002, during the LAUC-LA Spring Membership meeting.
The LAUC-LA Librarian of the Year Award was established in 1993/94 to honor excellence in librarianship and extraordinary contributions to the teaching and research missions of UCLA, as demonstrated through specific acts of creativity, innovation, intellectual or moral courage, leadership, or scholarship. Alice was selected for the award from a group of five excellent nominees with a wide range of remarkable accomplishments.
As College Library’s Digital Services Librarian, Alice has worked tirelessly during the last two years to establish and develop the UCLA Library’s digital reference service. When Eleanor Mitchell, Head of College Library, approached Alice in spring 2000 to explore the possibilities of a partnership between UCLA and the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System (MCLS), Alice enthusiastically embarked on a mission in uncharted waters. Working with Susan McGlamery, Coordinator of the MCLS 24/7 digital reference project, Alice immediately began forming a testing group at UCLA to try out the Webline software that MCLS was using. In spite of daunting obstacles, including major access problems with the software, skepticism toward the whole idea of digital reference service, and technical problems with the California Digital Library, (CDL), Alice persevered, believing that such a service would be greatly beneficial to library users.
UCLA’s digital reference service was successfully launched in spring 2001 with three librarians from College Library and one from the Young Research Library, while the Biomedical Library conducted its own project. Alice’s role as trouble-shooter expanded to cover all UCLA participants and she took on the responsibility for tracking use of this new service, keeping statistics, recruiting new librarians to participate in an expanded service in fall 2001, and communicating with all essential people regarding the new service. She pushed to get the "Ask a Librarian" icon on the library homepage to ensure that users are aware of the full range of reference services available.
What is truly amazing is that Alice took on all this responsibility in addition to her regular College Library duties. It was not until fall 2001, when digital reference was well on its way to being an established public service, that Alice received some release time from her reference and teaching responsibilities at College Library to handle the extraordinary workload associated with the ongoing development and improvement of this service.
Thus far, she has recruited and trained an additional 20-25 UCLA librarians, library assistants, and Information Studies graduate students from a variety of library units to help provide digital reference; she has established weekly training sessions for all digital reference librarians; she has set up a website and listserv to facilitate communication among all the UCLA digital reference staff and to enable them to share their experiences; and she has worked with the Reference, Research and Instructional Services Committee (RRISC) to develop quarterly orientation sessions for digital reference staff so that they can learn more about resources and search strategies outside their own disciplines. Alice has been a speaker at many national and local workshops and conferences, and has been asked to contribute the first article on digital reference for the next edition of the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science.
Although Alice has enjoyed the support of her supervisors and colleagues, it is truly due to her own vision and determination that the UCLA Library's digital reference service is recognized throughout the United States as cutting edge and as a model worth emulating. In recognition of her leadership, dedication, hard work, innovation, courage and creativity as a people's librarian, and her invaluable contributions to the teaching and research missions of UCLA, we are very pleased to name Alice Kawakami the 2002 LAUC-LA Librarian of the Year.
Committee on the LAUC-LA Distinguished Librarian Award
Ruby Bell-Gam, Chair
John V. Richardson (Faculty member, Information Studies)