Betsy Wilson's Acceptance Speech

2007 Recipient of ACRL's Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award

March 29, 2007
ACRL National Conference
Baltimore, Maryland

It is an indescribable honor to accept the ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award.  I was flabbergasted when Pam Snelson first informed me of the award, and I will remain ever so.  But today is about thanks and gratitude.

My thanks to ACRL leaders for establishing this award decades ago and to YBP for keeping it vibrant.  I am grateful for the work of the selection committee chaired by Mark Winston, who has been charming and gracious in all of our email exchanges.  (Mark, I look forward to meeting you in person one day!)

My gratitude to those colleagues who orchestrated my nomination and wrote supporting letters.  I understand that Joyce Ogburn and Lynn Chmelir were co-conductors of this orchestra, and I thank them for their confidence in me.

I have been blessed to be part of a profession that nurtures growth and change.  What could be better than to work side by side with others who understand the power of libraries and librarians to transform research, teaching, learning, and ultimately society?  Few are as fortunate as we are in this room.  We engage in work worth doing every day.  And there is much important work ahead as we realize the promise of the 21st century academic library.

At times like these, one naturally reflects on those who have paved our way, challenged us, or said an encouraging word or two.  May I acknowledge a few of my many generous mentors?  Hugh Atkinson, Bart Clark, Bill Moffett, Nancy Eaton, Sharon Hogan, Carolyn Kirkendall, Rolland Stevens, David Kohl, Carla Stoffle, Janice Koyama, Bill Crowe, and the wise and wonderful Betty Bengtson.

Where would I be without all my friends and colleagues from the alphabet soup of library organizations, including: GWLA, OCLC, DLF, ALA, ARL, Orbis Cascade, ILCSO, and of course, ACRL (with a special place in my heart for BIS, now IS)?  A special nod to my buddies Lori Arp, Charles Forrest, and Mary Jane Petrowski with whom I have a decades-long bond that began as baby librarians at the University of Illinois.

I share this award with the entire staff of the University of Washington Libraries.  They make me look good every day.  Their commitment to innovation, excellence, and service inspires me.

As a young girl growing up in Iowa, I would sit glued to our black and white TV to watch the Miss America contest.  I would daydream about what my talent would be.  Tap dancing? Juggling? Dramatic interpretation?  So, you can imagine how touched I was when the UW staff staged a surprise and whimsical coronation for me when the award was announced.  They bestowed me with a lovely plastic purple and gold crown and the coveted white sash.  Written in glitter, the sash read Ex Libris Queen.  My childhood dream of Atlantic City had come true, and I didn’t even have to juggle!

I owe much to those I hold most dear and who have been there to cheer me on and share in my joy.  A special thanks to my husband Dean Pollack who learned early on that one can never stock enough beer and wine for library parties.  Dean is truly selfless.  He compromised his career so that I could fully engage in mine.  His is a gift I can never repay.  He’s a wonderful guy!

I also want to acknowledge my parents Mart and Joan Wilson.  They created a sphere of constancy and encouragement for us three kids as we grew.  As we pursued our individual passions, they always expected us to succeed and to help others do the same.  By their model, we knew to work hard, roll up our sleeves, be of service, but not make too much fuss.

My father passed away unexpectedly in December.  Otherwise he would be here today like he has been for every award ceremony since the Isaac Walton Conservation Award in the 4th grade.  No doubt he is smiling on the “other side.”  He also is probably getting antsy by now and thinking “just a little bit too much fuss.  Time to get back to work.”

With that, let me express a concluding thanks to all of you.  I am indeed humbled by the award but even more honored to be part of this extraordinary community.  There’s a lot of important work ahead, so let’s get to it!