Excellence in Academic Libraries Award

About the Excellence in Academic Libraries Award To recognize academic librarians and staff who work together as a team to develop academic libraries that are outstanding in furthering the educational missions of their institutions.

Administered by:

Association of College and Research Libraries logo


2019 Winner(s)

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College Libraries, winner in the college category, impressed the award committee with its integration of social justice into library services.

“The social justice theme that infused all of the work presented in Swarthmore College’s materials made them a standout, exemplifying their team approach and thoughtful integration of values,” said Irene M.H. Herold, chair of the 2019 Excellence in Academic Libraries Committee and librarian of the college at the College of Wooster. “Their work with the National Security Archive creating research internships which included filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests; workshops bringing book artists in conversation with local Syrian and Iraqi individuals resettled to the area; and commitment to sustainability and an open approach to education for impact as demonstrated by actions to make texts affordable and featuring faculty who published in open access publications are just a few of the many highlighted activities that demonstrated how Swarthmore College Libraries did not just meet, but exceeded the award criteria.”

Community College

2019 Winner(s)

The College of Western Idaho

The College of Western Idaho Library (CWI), winner of this year’s award in the community college category, was chosen for its creative innovation.

“The College of Western Idaho is a college and library that did not exist ten years ago. Now, this library provides a model of best practice for what can be accomplished with creativity, will power, and goodwill,” noted Herold. “In a decentralized campus, the library was innovative in looking at how to function and provide communal space to support student and campus needs as a library, maker hub, and mobile classroom. Of their many noteworthy activities, the inclusion of student employees in implicit bias training, the development of a chatbot named ‘Patronus,’ and micro-credentialing initiative stood out. They provide service with respect and dignity. As noted by a student response from the library’s 2018 annual survey, ‘The library to be honest is freaking amazing.’”


2019 Winner(s)

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library, winner in the university category, was selected for its collaborative approach to problem solving.

“The Kelvin Smith Library partners to solve community problems and applies what they do to solve problems within their own community,” said Herold. “As quoted in their nomination, ‘Research can be used for the advocacy of communities experiencing disruption and inequality,’ and the library is a shining model of this.

“Noteworthy among numerous reported activities were the Freedman Fellowship for Digital Scholarship program, using space assessment data to make changes in support of student success, and its National Personal Librarian Conference,” Herold continued. “The library not only embodies their strategic plan goals of ‘research,’ ‘learn,’ and ‘experience’ in everything they do, but also is user feedback driven to ‘continuously redesign the library to ensure that new generations of students continue to respond positively so that they see the library as being their library.’”