Chapel Cowden chosen as the 2023 recipient of the LIRT Librarian Recognition Award

For Immediate Release
Thu, 05/04/2023


Bridget Farrell

Chair, Librarian Recognition Award

Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT)

CHICAGO — The Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) of the American Library Association has chosen Chapel Cowden, associate professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, as the 2023 recipient of the LIRT Librarian Recognition Award. The Librarian Recognition Award was created to recognize an individual’s contribution to the development, advancement and support of information literacy and instruction.

Cowden began her library career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2008. She has held many roles during her time at UT Chattanooga—serving as the Circulation Day Supervisor and then as an Archives Specialist before beginning her current role of Health & Sciences Librarian in 2013. As Health and Sciences Librarian, she provides information literacy to students in Nursing, Physical Therapy, Health and Human Performance, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, and introductory composition courses. She also teaches as adjunct faculty for UT Chattanooga’s Honors College. 

Cowden has numerous presentations and publications centering on instruction topics including those on gamification of library instruction, problem-based learning in biochemistry information literacy classes, scaffolding library instruction into STEM curriculum, and student learning and motivation in authentic learning environments. Most notable is Cowden’s research on culturally responsive pedagogy in library instruction classes. She led a sponsored workshop on culturally responsive pedagogy at ACRL 2019 and wrote an article on this topic which was published in portal: Libraries and the Academy in 2021. 

Cowden’s leadership and membership on several ACRL committees and role as a mentor in ACRL Instruction Section’s Peer Mentor Program show a strong commitment to service and leadership within our profession. She has served as member on several national committees including ACRL Science & Technology Section’s (STS) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force & Implementation Team. She has held leadership roles on several other ACRL STS committees including the Development Task Force, Research Committee, and Professional Development Committee. The Awards Committee was most impressed by her excellent research on incorporating culturally responsive pedagogy in library instruction, the strength of her nomination letters, and her record of service to the profession.

In response to learning of the award, Cowden shared the following statement: "It is an absolute honor to receive the 2023 LIRT Librarian Recognition Award and join the outstanding ranks of past recipients. Though a science librarian, I consider the passionate core of my work to be improving the instructional experience for all who enter library classrooms. A few years ago, I became interested in culturally responsive pedagogy and its potential application to library instruction, and I spent the ensuing years collaborating with colleagues to adapt CRP to library instruction. I view receiving the LIRT award as an opportunity to highlight the importance of culturally responsive pedagogy and its potential for cultivating a more inclusive environment in our 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. 2023 marks the 10th year the Librarian Recognition Award has been awarded. Chapel Cowden will be presented with a $1,000 cash prize and a plaque commemorating the award. Their achievement will be celebrated at a ceremony during the ALA Annual Conference in June 2023 (date and time to be announced).

Visit LIRT's webpage to find out more about LIRT, its mission, and the awards.

The LIRT Librarian Recognition Awards Subcommittee included Bridget Farrell of the University of Denver (chair), Kimberly Shotick of Northern Illinois University, and Alex Mitchell of Texas A&M University.