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Lilly Library

Elizabeth L. Johnson receives 2010 Jenkins Librarian Award

The William Evans Jenkins Librarian Award Committee is pleased to announce that the 2010 recipient is Elizabeth L. Johnson. Named for IU’s chief librarian from 1904–1932, the William Evans Jenkins Librarian Award recognizes the outstanding professional contributions of a present or former librarian and is awarded by the Bloomington Library Faculty Council.

Elizabeth Johnson received her MLS from The University of Texas in 1976, garnering the Outstanding Student Award in the process and earning membership in the Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Phi Mu societies. Since March 1980, she has held the position of Head of the Technical Services Department, Lilly Library. Elizabeth has been instrumental in securing a number of grants, notably the National Endowment for the Humanities Grant which enabled the cataloging of the Elizabeth Ball Collection of Children’s Literature (June 1985 – Dec. 1986) and The Library Construction and Services Act Grant for the retrospective conversion of Lilly Library serials (April, 2000–April, 2001). She has also been the recipient of several individual grants throughout her career, which have facilitated her participation in international programs in her specialty and enabled her to flourish into one of the Rare Books & Manuscripts Section’s (RBMS) “most respected  — even beloved — and enduring leaders” (Jackie Dooley, Consulting Archivist, OCLC Research and the RLG Partnership).

Over the past three decades, Elizabeth has curated or co-curated several exhibitions, both at the Lilly Library and at other institutions, and has authored several publications in her field. Her works can be found among conference proceedings and in a variety of journals, including Rare Books & Manuscripts Librarianship.   Some have been reprinted, while others have been translated into Japanese. Elizabeth has also served as secretary of the Bloomington Library Faculty (1992–2003), secretary of the Bloomington Library Faculty Council (2001–2002) and Unit Representative to the Bloomington Faculty Council (1999–2000; 2003–2004).

Elizabeth credits her love of special collections librarianship to her experience as a student employee at the University of Texas Humanities Research Center (Austin, Texas 1965–1968) and with Bertram Rota of London (1969–1971). For over two decades, she has helped to chart the course of rare books librarianship in myriad ways through her multifaceted service to RBMS: Executive Committee (5 years), Secretary (1991–1993), Vice–Chair/Chair–Elect, Chair, and Past–Chair (1995–1997), Bibliographic Standards Committee, Thesaurus editor, Chair, Nominating Committee, Budget and Development Committee, as well as the Continuing Education Committee, Seminars Committee and Conference Development Committee, Chair (2007–2010). Randal S. Brandt, Principal Cataloger, The Bancroft Library, Berkeley, states: “As an ambassador for RBMS and for the rare materials library profession in general, Elizabeth has few equals.”

In the course of her service to the RBMS, Elizabeth has been as attentive to the challenges posed by the physical aspect of rare materials as to their intellectual content, and has been a key player in the drafting of standards and guidelines currently in use by rare book libraries worldwide.  Her “incisive grasp of cataloging rules, their application and implications” (Elaine Smyth, Head, Special Collections, Louisiana State Library), combined with “her interest in meeting new challenges and needs” (R. Arvid Nelsen, Archivist, Charles Babbage Institute) earned her a spot on the Working Group charged with revising The Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Books — a multi-year effort. As Chair of the RBMS Seminars Committee, Elizabeth has also made a significant contribution to pre-conferences, as an organizer, presenter and moderator.

In summary, “Elizabeth exemplifies all the best qualities of a topnotch professional librarian. She has authoritative mastery of her professional specialty, she is energetic and forward-thinking, and her organizational and leadership skills are notable. As a colleague, she is warm and collegial, offering welcome mentoring and support to novice and seasoned colleagues alike.” (Elaine B. Smyth) The Jenkins Award Committee concurs.

Elizabeth was recognized for her accomplishment at the Libraries’ Retirement & Recognition Reception, on April 22 and will be presented with her award at the Bloomington Library Faculty meeting, on May 17, 2010.