Kemp receives prestigious RUSA History Section award for excellence in historical reference

For Immediate Release
Wed, 06/23/2010


CHICAGO—Thomas Jay Kemp, director of genealogy products for NewsBank, is the 2010 recipient of the Genealogical Publishing Company Award— a citation and $1,500 cash prize to a librarian, library or publisher who is a RUSA member and has demonstrated professional achievement in historical reference and research librarianship.

The award is administered by the History Section (HS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) and is sponsored by Genealogical Publishing Company. Kemp was selected for his long-time leadership role in both HS and in the field of genealogy librarianship, as well as his significant contributions to genealogy publications.

He is well-known as one of genealogy’s premier librarians and authors, and several of his sources are classics known even to non-genealogy librarians and to novice genealogists. Mary Mannix, award committee chair, cited Kemp’s enthusiasm for the profession as a characteristic that sets him apart from his peers. “He is an old school genealogist who quickly embraced new technology and the opportunities it brings both us and our patrons,” she said. “He is an educator at heart who always has time to explain even the most complicated of answers, and many of us in the History Section are involved today because of Tom’s welcoming manner and his encouragement. He has also instilled in many of us the belief that ‘It’s a great day in genealogy!’”

Kemp previously served as the director of the Godfrey Memorial Library, Middletown, Conn., and director of special collections at the University of South Florida Library, Tampa. In 2005 he received the Silver Tray Award for Lifetime Service from the Utah Genealogical Association. He is widely published, with the distinction that his “International vital records handbook” is, to professionals, simply known as “Kemp”. His extensive list of publications also includes “The Genealogist's Virtual Library: Full-Text Books on the World Wide Web” and “Virtual Roots 2.0: A Guide to Genealogy and Local History on the World Wide Web.”

Kemp will receive his award—a plaque and $1,500 cash prize—at the RUSA Awards Ceremony and Reception, scheduled for 4-6 p.m., Monday, June 28, in, as a part of ALA’s Annual Conference events. All conference participants are invited to this celebration honoring RUSA’s best, and are also encouraged to participate in RUSA’s various other conference program offerings.

The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. For more information, visit Not a RUSA member, but interested in discounted registration rates on conference, RUSA preconferences and other RUSA events? Join, renew or add RUSA to your ALA membership at