Jay L. Verkler wins RUSA award for contributions to genealogical reference

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/17/2012

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CHICAGO — The Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) History Section has selected Jay L. Verkler, past president and CEO of FamilySearch.org, as the winner of the 2012 Genealogical Publishing Company Award — an annual honor that recognizes achievement in historical or genealogical reference.

FamilySearch is the largest volunteer genealogical organization in the world. For more than 100 years it has been actively acquiring, preserving and sharing historical records. Under Verkler’s leadership, FamilySearch made a commitment to move its research collections to a digital and Internet-based platform, consequently making a huge leap forward in access and preservation of core genealogical records. He accomplished this by building teams and establishing partnerships with a multitude of community stakeholders, including companies, vendors and public record holders. These successful partnerships have not only brought resources online and provided increased access and services, they have helped cultivate a global genealogical community.

The results of these efforts, especially for the end user— the family historian searching for his ancestors — are astounding: FamilySearch.org recently reached the milestone of half a billion digital images of primary source material brought online. As of March 2012, 2.7 billion names from 1,116 collections from more than 70 countries had been indexed by more than 300,000 volunteers and, since August 2011, researchers can order online from worldwide microfilm holdings and have their order shipped to their local family history center.

“The award committee felt very strongly about recognizing and honoring Jay for his leadership, direction and vision in bringing FamilySearch.org services into the digital age during his tenure as president and CEO at FamilySearch,” said William Buckner, award committee chair. “Under his leadership FamilySearch has become the premier genealogical research site online.”

The award, a citation and $1,500 cash prize, will be presented at the RUSA Awards Reception, scheduled for 5 - 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 24 as a part of RUSA’s events at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif. The exact location of this event will be announced in late spring. For more information, visit RUSA’s website or the Annual Conference website.

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. Learn more about the association at www.ala.org/rusa.