Librarian of the Year Award Presentation
Presentation to Victoria Steele
UCLA Faculty Center
May 24, 2006
Remarks by Elaine Shiner
In making following remarks, I am indebted to the winner’s nomination and several supporting letters.
The LAUC-LA Librarian of the Year Award was established in 1993/1994 to recognize excellence in librarianship, particularly as it enhances library service and furthers the teaching and research mission of UCLA. The recipient must also embody one or more of the following qualities: creativity, innovation, intellectual or moral courage, leadership, and scholarship.
Fifteen worthy candidates were nominated for the award this year. Among these, a few stood out especially as having demonstrated remarkable talents and achievements. The Committee was confronted with a very difficult decision. We are nevertheless delighted to announce that the 2006 LAUC-LA Librarian of the Year Award goes to Dr. Victoria Steele.
Since her arrival in May 2000 to head the Young Research Library’s Department of Special Collections, Vicki has accomplished much. She has expanded and improved the Department’s physical space. She has added to the strength of the Department’s staff through some key appointments. She has hosted conferences and special events at the Library which highlighted and promoted the use of the Department’s collections. She has identified and funded the processing of several large and important unprocessed collections. But Vicki is being honored today chiefly for establishing the Department’s Center for Primary Research and Training. The Center for Primary Research and Training matches graduate students in the humanities and social sciences with unprocessed, or under-processed, collections in their fields, trains these students in archival methods, and pays them to produce high-quality cataloging and finding aids.
The history of the Center for Primary Research and Training begins in September 2003, when Vicki attended an ARL conference held at the Library of Congress, entitled “Exposing Hidden Collections.” This conference tried to address what was then, and what remains, a serious national problem: unprocessed archival, manuscript, and rare book collections which are inaccessible to scholars. Like many large research institutions of great depth, UCLA has many such “hidden” collections. Vicki returned from Washington determined to confront this challenge. Out of her determination grew an idea, which became the Center for Primary Research and Training. By February, 2004, Vicki had developed her idea, and had applied for and obtained funding from the Ahmanson Foundation. Between February 1 and June 30 of the same year, a mere 5 months, Vicki planned, implemented, and publicized her creation. The Center opened its doors on July 1, 2004.
Now, eight academic quarters and 36 graduate students later, the Center is an unqualified success. With the completion of 45 projects, 558.5 linear ft. of archival materials have been processed and 1,355 books and manuscripts have been cataloged. The UCLA Library acknowledges the role and the strengths of the Center in its Strategic Plan, which states that the Center “will remain a top fundraising priority.” The Ahmanson Foundation, in its 2004 Annual Report, praised the Center as a national model for making “hidden” collections accessible.
The Center for Primary Research and Training is an operation which benefits everyone. Students receive financial support within their areas of interest and expertise, valuable archival training, and author credit for processing their collections. The Library gets highly qualified staff in the specific disciplines and languages it needs to make its collections more accessible. Faculty members are pleased to see their students working with primary sources and exposed new research opportunities. UCLA administrators recognize that the Center, by giving graduate students work within their fields, aids in the recruitment and retention of top students and improves the overall quality of graduate programs. The Center for Primary Research and Training is also likely to generate considerable interest among the larger Los Angeles community, and thus serve as a launching pad for further outreach and fundraising. Through her efforts, Victoria Steele has elevated Special Collections to a new level and made it recognizable as one of the great jewels of the UCLA Library.
The Committee is pleased to recognize Vicki’s exceptional achievement by naming her the 2006 LAUC-LA Librarian of the Year.
And now, Vicki, please come forward to accept your award.
[Presentation of certificate, clock, flowers]
The certificate reads:
THE LIBRARIANS ASSOCIATION OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
IS PLEASED TO PRESENT THE
2006 LIBRARIAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
IN RECOGNITION OF HER EXCEPTIONAL INGENUITY,
CREATIVE LEADERSHIP, AND VISION IN DEVELOPING AND
SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENTING THE UCLA LIBRARY'S
CENTER FOR PRIMARY RESEARCH AND TRAINING.
PRESENTED AT THE LAUC-LA ASSEMBLY
UCLA FACULTY CENTER
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2006
At the request of the LAUC membership, Vicki will also receive an extra $250 in professional development funds for the next fiscal year.