Marty Brennan and Russell Johnson, Recipients of the 2019 Librarian of the Year Award

Marty Brennan and Russell Johnson, Recipients of the 2019 Librarian of the Year AwardConferred each year at the Librarians Association of the University of California, Los Angeles (LAUC-LA) spring meeting, the Librarian of the Year Award recognizes librarianship that has furthered the university’s teaching and research mission in service of the intellectual, informational, and cultural needs of the university community over the last 12 to 18 months. This year, two recipients garnered especially compelling nominations from students, staff, and faculty, which spoke to the lasting impact of exceptional librarianship and advocacy. The Librarian of the Year Award Committee is pleased to announce that the winners of this year’s LAUC-LA Librarian of the Year Award are Marty Brennan and Russell Johnson. This year’s recipients of the Librarian of the Year award will each receive $500 in professional development funds.

Marty Brennan, Scholarly Communication Education Librarian, Scholarly Communication, Charles E. Young Research Library

The 2019 Librarian of the Year Award to Marty recognizes several notable accomplishments over the past 18 months, which fall into two broad categories: academic freedom and open access. As an advocate for academic freedom, nominators described his significant contribution as a member of the bargaining team for University of California Librarians Unit 17. During negotiations, the bargaining team learned that a long-standing assumption of academic freedom for UC librarians was not contractually protected. “Marty took responsibility for researching the issue, preparing a proposal to incorporate the concept of academic freedom into the Unit 17 contract, and presenting it at the bargaining table,” explained one nominator. “[He] worked with colleagues to publicize the issue, writing blog posts and spearheading a petition campaign in support of UC Librarians and Academic Freedom.” With more than 2800 signatories nationwide, the petition and related events calling attention to the issue led the University administration to establish the Working Group on Privileges, Protections, Obligations, and Responsibilities of Non-faculty Academic Appointees. “Marty's tenacity in advocating for what should be a ‘no-brainer’ on the part of the University to confirm that librarians do have academic freedom has been incredible,” commented one nominator.

Similarly, Marty’s prominent position as an advocate of Open Access (OA) has laid the foundation to establish UCLA as a leader in making teaching and research materials available through OA. Among his accomplishments on this front in the past 18 months, nominators pointed to the instrumental roles Marty has played in discussions between the UCLA Library and the Academic Senate on the Open UCLA centennial celebration initiative; in the University's current review of the Proposed Revised Presidential Policy on Copyright Ownership; as a board member of Force11, which advocates for Open Access; as a member of the steering committee and co-chair of the programming committee of the Force11 Scholarly Communications Institute (FSCI 2019); as the host of a UCLA version of the ALA "game show" presentation on copyright, with distinguished guest David Nimmer; and as the coordinator of a three-hour panel on “The Future of Open Access at UCLA”, held in November in the Charles E. Young Research Library (YRL).

“His excellent background in copyright law has strengthened the developing culture of Open Access at UCLA,” remarked one nominator. “Moreover, his leading position[s] in both Force11 and FSCI have ensured that he is able to disseminate his expert knowledge through the 2018 and 2019 Summer Institutes on Open Access based at UCSD and UCLA, respectively.”

Another nominator wrote that “Marty's contributions to these areas of protecting intellectual property and activity are highly deserving of being recognized by his peers,” explaining that the “long-term effect of Marty's work will benefit UC librarians for years to come.”

Russell Johnson, Curator of History and Special Collections for the Sciences at the UCLA Biomedical Library

The 2019 Librarian of the Year Award to Russell recognizes his work in two broad categories, as well: mentorship and outreach. “Dedicated to mentoring the next generation of special collections librarians through the Ducklings Program,” one nominator explained, Russell has earned a reputation among students in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program in the UCLA Department of Information Studies for providing practical interactive experiences to supplement classroom coursework. “Through his mentorship, internship supervision, and classroom instruction, Russell has supplemented the academic learning and professional development of dozens of students in [the MLIS] program in the past year,” remarked nominating MILS students in a joint letter of support. For example, in Winter 2019, Russell provided information literacy and special collections instruction for three MLIS courses. “As future librarians, we appreciate the effort he puts into the next generation of professionals and the model that he is for us.”

Russell leads his Ducklings on tours of the California Antiquarian Book Fair and Rare Books LA, to introduce students to booksellers and demonstrate how to engage in these large, complex contexts. “This kind of mentorship supplements what we learn in class with the hands-on experience we will call on in our careers,” explained one nominator.

The nominators were unanimous in their admiration of the many qualities that he brings to the practice of librarianship, characterizing Russell as “a leader in our field who demonstrates creativity and innovation in outreach with the public, with undergrad and graduate students interested in topical areas of his collections, and information professionals considering academic-related jobs.” Terms used to describe Russell in nomination documents—active, considerate, creative, encouraging, engaging, friendly, generous, helpful, informative, innovative, supportive, thoughtful, welcoming—encapsulate the values of special collections librarianship. Several nominators expressed the aspiration to emulate Russell in their own library career. “Russell is dedicated to bringing future librarians into his collection and modeling best practices of special collections librarianship,” explained one nominator. “He truly makes mentorship and outreach (both to the public, and also to his colleagues and students) a priority, and is a fierce advocate not just for the collections he oversees but for libraries in general and special collections in particular.”

The Librarian of the Year Award Committee also wishes to recognize and congratulate all eligible nominees for the 2019 award:

  • Zoe Borovsky
  • Marty Brennan
  • Dawn Childress
  • Xaviera Flores
  • Miki Goral
  • Rachel Green
  • Angela Horne
  • Courtney Jacobs
  • Diana King
  • Russell Johnson
  • Antonia Osuna-Garcia
  • Sangeeta Pal
  • Philip Palmer
  • Matthew Vest


2019 Librarian of the Year Award Committee
Diana Ascher
Robert Gore, Chair
Amanda Mack
Faculty Representative: Sandra Graham, Distinguished Professor of Education

[photograph by Ben Alkaly]