Sweet Briar College librarian Julie Kane is waking up in New York City this morning, anticipating accepting an award that has special meaning in her profession.
Kane is one of 10 winners of the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award. The honor comes with a $5,000 check presented at a ceremony hosted by The New York Times.
“It’s a little more special because it comes from the people we serve,” Kane explains.
Indeed. Seven grateful people — including Courtney Cunningham ’10, whom Kane mentored as a student and who is now an academic librarian, five faculty members and the College’s grants officer, Kathleen Placidi — contributed to Kane’s nomination. It was Placidi who coordinated the effort, along with associate dean for academic affairs Jill Granger.
“I’ve been so impressed by how Julie has expanded the role of what an academic librarian is, by enthusiastically helping our faculty incorporate digital resources into their classrooms and research, and by working so hard to learn new techniques and skills in order to turn herself into a digital humanities resource for the college community,” Placidi says.
Integrating technology across the curriculum — teaching students to be adaptable and at ease with change — is a cornerstone of the College’s strategic plan.
Kane served on the Digital Sophistication Planning Group and has been a key mover in digital learning initiatives.
Writing in support of her nomination, English department chair Marcia Robertson cited Kane’s leadership on the fall 2013 implementation of and training on the Digication e-portfolio platform. The system “has its fair share of crotchets and glitches” that make it frustrating to use, Robertson wrote.
“Having Julie specifically there to handle questions and soothe anxieties and solve problems makes a qualitative difference in our lives. Knowing that I can bring her into a class to help students soothes both me and them.”
Reflecting new responsibilities, Kane’s title recently changed to director of digital teaching and learning and digital pedagogies librarian. Since 2007, she has served as head of technical services, charged with cataloging, acquisitions and serials. In July, she was promoted to full professor.
In addition to her work at Sweet Briar, she is pursuing an M.A. in English from Lynchburg College. She earned her M.S in library and information science at Simmons and her bachelor’s at Mount Holyoke, both women’s colleges — which helped draw her to Sweet Briar after nearly seven years as a serials librarian at Stanford Law School.
Kane’s colleagues also recognized her for volunteering as an advisor to first-year students from 2009 to 2011, for her service on numerous American Library Association committees and her own scholarship.
“Julie Kane loves being a liberal arts college librarian — and it shows,” Granger wrote in summation of her nomination.
Only 60 librarians nationwide have won the I Love My Librarian Award since it was inaugurated in 2008. The American Library Association administers the program. This year, more than 1,100 library patrons submitted stories detailing how their librarian impacts their communities and lives. Nominees work in public, school, college, community college and university libraries.
Kane believes the award has as much do with the community she serves as anything she has done.
“Every facet of my nomination that highlights what I’ve done or what I do for Sweet Briar, I can trace back to members of the staff, faculty and administration who have supported, encouraged and pushed me out of my comfort zone to explore, travel and learn new things,” she says.
“I’ve taken advantage of the incredible support here and pounced on every crumb of encouragement; I only hope that I can give back something of value that reflects a fraction of what that does for me.”
For more information regarding the 2013 I Love My Librarian recipients, please visit Ilovelibraries.org/2013/13winners.