New York Public Library wins the LIRT 2018 Innovation in Instruction Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/24/2018


Beatrice Calvin

Manager, Professional Development



The Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) of the American Library Association is pleased to announce that the 2018 Innovation in Instruction Award will be presented to the New York Public Library during the ALA 2018 Annual Conference in New Orleans. The award will be given at the LIRT Awards Ceremony on Sunday, June 24, from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the New Orleans Downtown Marriott at the Convention Center - Tchoupitoulas Room.


Created to recognize a library that demonstrates innovation in support of information literacy and instruction, this year’s award recognizes the Picture Yourself Online! program created by Arieh Ress, senior librarian at The Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) branch of the New York Public Library.  


The Picture Yourself Online! program began in 2016 as a way to address a demonstrated patron need. In classes on social media use and job searching taught by the library, Ress noticed that many patrons did not have a high-quality photograph of themselves suitable for posting. The Picture Yourself Online! program was created to provide jobseekers with free, professional-quality headshots. Using an inexpensive background, flash, digital camera, and his skills in photography, Ress and his assistants assembled a pop-up studio that provided over 200 patrons with professional-looking photographs in the first year of the program. For patrons without the financial means to keep up with rapidly-changing expectations regarding technology use and finding employment, this program has filled a void.     


When notified of the award, Arieh Ress stated, “It has been very gratifying to see that this program has been so well-received, and my hope is that through recognition, such as the LIRT Innovation in Instruction Award, the program will spread to more places and help more people. I would like to thank those at the Mid-Manhattan and SIBL branches of the New York Public Library who showed support for this program and to my assistants Anon-Nat Cadieux and Francisco Sanchez without whom the program couldn't have survived!”


In addition to applauding the program’s initiative and success at New York Public Library, the LIRT Awards Committee noted that while this program is not instruction in the traditional sense, learning more about the effective use of social media, including how to present ourselves online, speaks directly to the information literacy needs of many people today. The committee also recognized this program’s low cost and ability to be replicated across different types of libraries.


The Library Instruction Round Table was started in 1977 with the intent to bring together librarians who provide library instruction across all types of libraries -- academic, public, school, and special libraries.  This year -2018- marks the fifth year that the Innovation in Instruction Award has been awarded.  The New York Public Library will be presented with a $1,000 cash prize and a plaque at the LIRT Awards Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, June 24,5:30 - 7:00p.m. at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. The New York Public Library will also receive a $500 travel stipend for its librarians attending the ALA Annual Conference.


Find out more about LIRT, its mission, and the awards.


The LIRT Innovation in Instruction Awards Subcommittee included Beth Fuchs of the University of Kentucky (Chair & LIRT Awards Committee Chair), Emilia Marcyk of Michigan State University, Peter Ramsey of Baylor University, and Elizabeth Webster of Michigan State University.


The ALA Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR) serves as the liaison to the Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT).