Susan Sharpless Smith wins 2008 ACRL IS Innovation Award

Contact: Megan Griffin
ACRL Program Coordinator
(312) 280-2514
For Immediate Release,
February 25, 2008

Susan Sharpless Smith wins 2008 ACRL IS Innovation Award

CHICAGO- Susan Sharpless Smith, head of information technology at Wake Forest University's Z. Smith Reynolds Library, has been chosen to receive the 2008 Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Instruction Section (IS) Innovation Award. Sponsored by LexisNexis, the annual award recognizes a project that demonstrates creative, innovative or unique approaches to information literacy instruction or programming.

A prize of $3,000 and a plaque will be presented to Smith during the 2008 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif., at the IS program at 1:30 p.m on Sunday, June 29.

“Susan Sharpless Smith's pioneering efforts to ensure the success of Wake Forest University's Embedded Librarian Project illustrates the innovative application of a 'Library Without Walls,' both in the context of how technology has allowed the library to transcend its traditional physical confines and also in the project's outreach efforts to include the community in a faculty-library partnership initiative,” said Susan Beck, IS awards committee chair and collection development coordinator at the New Mexico State University Library.

Students enrolled in this sociology course spent two weeks traveling on a bus throughout the South, studying the most pressing current social issues found in that region. Smith, the “embedded librarian” of the project, created community by immersing herself in the experience, literally traveling with students and faculty on the bus. Smith set up, taught and moderated the use of the collaborative website. She helped students to use the Web site to communicate with parents, the local press and others at home.

“The fact that the course faculty consulted with the library regarding the program's technology needs was both commendable and a tribute to the high esteem Wake Forest University faculty holds for the library and its staff,” said Beck. “This library-academic partnership project demonstrates how librarians can make a positive and dramatic impact on a program. The embedded instruction program from Wake Forest University serves as a model for true collaboration between librarians and faculty. Susan was a necessary component of the program, and her participation allowed for community building as well as provided a means for documenting and sharing the learning that took place.”

Smith received her B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park, and earned her M.L.I.S. from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She received her M.A. in educational technology leadership from George Washington University.

ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing 13,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments.