For immediate release | February 21, 2012

John F. Helmer wins 2012 Hugh C. Atkinson Award

CHICAGO — John F. Helmer, executive director of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, has been named the 2012 winner of the Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award. Helmer will receive a cash award and citation at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 24,2012 at the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) Award Ceremony, during the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Named in honor of one of the pioneers of library automation, the Atkinson Award recognizes an academic librarian who has made significant contributions in the area of library automation or management and has made notable improvements in library services or research.

“John Helmer is recognized as an effective leader and champion of new ideas and initiatives in academic libraries,” said Mary Carmen Chimato, Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award committee chair and assistant dean of the University of the Pacific Library. “The committee was impressed with John’s breadth of experience, professional contributions and his ability to facilitate collaboration across 37 individual institutions. Most impressive is the genuine respect, appreciation and high esteem John’s colleagues hold for him, evidenced by the compelling nomination packet submitted to the committee.”

As the executive director of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, “John is a champion of new ideas and initiatives and is able to convert his ideas, and the ideas of others, into actions that are supported by the group and that ultimately improve the Alliance,” wrote one of Helmer’s nominators.

The Orbis Cascade Alliance is a consortium of private and public colleges and universities in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The alliance was formed in 2003 through the merger of Orbis and Cascade, two academic library consortia founded in the early 1990’s. The alliance serves the equivalent of more than 250,000 full-time students at 37 member institutions. Membership includes all public institutions in Oregon and Washington. As executive director, Helmer is responsible for consortium leadership, strategic planning, budgeting, staff supervision, representing the consortium in professional and public meetings and fostering collaborative relationships among member libraries and consortium partners.

Helmer received his B.A. in Applied Mathematics and Economics from the University of California-San Diego. He earned his M.L.S. from the University of California-Los Angeles and has completed additional graduate coursework in the Department of Economics Ph.D. program at Princeton University.

The Hugh C. Atkinson Award is jointly sponsored by four divisions of the American Library Association: the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) and LITA. The award is funded from an endowment established to honor Hugh C. Atkinson.

Donations to the endowment may be sent to Megan Griffin, ACRL, 50 East Huron St., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

For more information regarding the Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award, or a complete list of past recipients, please visit


About ACRL

ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 12,000 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. ACRL is on the Web at, Facebook at and Twitter at @ala_acrl.


Comprised of nearly 5,000 members from across the United States and 42 countries from around the globe, ALCTS is the premier resource for information specialists in collection development, preservation, and technical services. We are the leader in the development of principles, standards, and best practices for creating, collecting, organizing, delivering, and preserving information resources in all forms.

About LITA

Established in 1966, LITA is the leading organization reaching out across types of libraries to provide education and services for a broad membership of over 3,000 systems librarians, library administrators, library schools, vendors and many others interested in leading edge technology and applications for librarians and information providers. For more information, visit, or contact the LITA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4268; or e-mail:


The mission of the Library Leadership and Management Association ( is to encourage and nurture current and future library leaders, and to develop and promote outstanding leadership and management practices. LLAMA is a division of the American Library Association.


David Free