For immediate release | March 26, 2012

Reference giant Robert Kieft wins RUSA’s 2012 Mudge Award for reference librarianship excellence

CHICAGO — Robert Kieft, Ph.D., college librarian at Occidental College, is the distinguished recipient of the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) 2012 Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award — the highest honor for contributions to the field of reference librarianship.

The award, which is generously sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning, is presented annually to an individual who has made a distinguished contribution to reference librarianship. In choosing Kieft, the committee unanimously honored his nearly decade long investment in reformatting the “Guide to Reference” from a print volume to an ongoing, dynamic and interactive database with nearly 16,000 entries—an effort that included contributions from scores of people who became known as “Friends of Bob’s.” Kleft demonstrated his leadership skills and commitment by coordinating this effort to create an innovative resource that established a new kind of community for librarians, at a time when reference was transitioning to a more digital experience.

”Bob’s contributions to the 'Guide to Reference' has changed the face of reference practice and scholarship,” said Julia Gelfand, award committee chair. “Always committed to academic excellence and taking advantage of the teaching moment, he exercised foresight, utilized technology and introduced communication strategies to birth a product that the training of librarianship and the refinement of reference service had never experienced prior to its issue. Today, reference is a consultative, collaborative and interactive service thanks to having tools like this to share and revise as the contents continue to evolve.”

Kieft holds an M.L.I.S. from the School of Library and Information Studies, University of California, Berkeley, a Ph.D. in Drama from Stanford University and a A.B. in English from Hope College. In addition to his current position at Occidental College, he has been a visiting lecturer at numerous schools of library and information science. He has directed two college libraries, served on and chaired numerous committees and professional boards, provided consultancies to institutions, taught and mentored a generation of librarians many of whom caught the reference fever and share his passion for reference work.

In addition to his significant role with the “Guide to Reference,” he recently contributed the essay ”The Guide to Reference and Learning Reference Librarianship,” to Reference Reborn (Libraries Unlimited, 2010); his other articles and reviews, including guest columns in RUSA’s Reference & User Services Quarterly (RUSQ), constitute a major contribution to the primary literature of reference service and collection development. He has also presented at many conferences such as the American Library Association Annual Conference; the Society of Scholarly Publishing; LYRASIS; the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE); Association of Independent School Librarians; and other organizations.

The Mudge Award, a citation and $5,000 cash prize, will be presented at the RUSA Awards Reception, scheduled for 5- 6:30 p.m. on 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


Elizabeth Markel