For immediate release | May 21, 2024

Michele Fenton and Brett Spencer to receive Innovation and Advocacy in Library History Award

CHICAGO - The Library History Round Table of the American Library Association is pleased to announce it has chosen two honorees for the Innovation and Advocacy in Library History Award. This award acknowledges individuals or organizations that have made recent, substantive contributions to LHRT or to the wider library history community. This non-monetary award is given to an individual who recognizing those who have promoted library history in exceptional or new ways or who have reached audiences that have not been engaged previously.

Michele Fenton is Catalog Librarian at the Indiana State Library. Her award recognizes her use of non-traditional channels to share her findings in the history of Black librarianship and to engage those interested in library history. Since 2011, Fenton has posted hundreds of biographies of Black librarians on her blog, "Little Known Black Librarian Facts" which are rich resources for further study as well as fascinating stories in their own right. As well, she is co-leader of the “LHRTS Reads” book club, which gathers readers interested in library history to discuss an important work together; this book club represents a significant advance in the efforts of the round table to engage its members in meaningful interaction outside of formal scholarly forums. Fenton is also a leader in bringing library history into interdisciplinary scholarly works, such as the third edition of the "Handbook of Black Librarianship" which she is co-editing, and the proceedings of the National Conference of African American Librarians.

Brett Spencer is Reference and Instruction Librarian at Penn State Berks in Reading, Pennsylvania. Since 2016, he has served as editor of "LHRT News & Notes," the official blog of the round table. In that capacity, he shares information about important events and deadlines related to library history awards and events. He has expanded the scope of the blog to include items about library history culled from other media. Most crucially, he has made the blog a forum for publication of student research in library history, works in progress, “member spotlights” profiling LHRT members, digitized primary sources, podcasts, and virtual tours of library spaces. By providing an outlet for budding writers in library history as well as those not inclined to pursue formal scholarly publication—and through his patient encouragement and outreach—Spencer has “helped them gain the confidence to do the historical work, and then the confidence to publish it”, as one library school professor wrote. Spencer also serves as the book reviews editor for the journal "Libraries: Culture, History, and Society."

About the Library History Round Table

The Library History Round Table of the American Library Association exists to facilitate communication among scholars and students of library history, to support research in library history, and to be active in issues, such as preservation, that concern library historians. The Round Table sponsors conferences, publishes a newsletter, and presents the Justin Winsor Prize and the Phyllis Dain Dissertation Award to promote excellence in library history research. In 1999, LHRT marked its 50th year of library history scholarship and activism.


Danielle M. Ponton

Staff Liaison

American Library Association (ALA)

Library History Round Table (LHRT)