For immediate release | March 28, 2017

Dr. Em Claire Knowles receives 2017 Beta Phi Mu Award

CHICAGO — Dr. Em Claire Knowles, assistant dean for student and alumni affairs at Simmons College's School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the American Library Association's Beta Phi Mu Award. This award is given in recognition of the achievement of a library school faculty member or another individual for distinguished service to education for librarianship. This annual award, which consists of $1,000 and a citation of achievement, is sponsored by the Beta Phi Mu International Library Science Honor Society.

Dr. Knowles holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of California (Davis), a M.L.S. from the University of California (Berkeley), a M.P.S. from California State University (Sacramento) and a Doctor of Arts in Library Administration from Simmons College. Prior to her current position as assistant dean for students and alumni affairs at Simmons SLIS, which she has held since 1988, Dr. Knowles worked in a wide range of professional positions at the University of California (Davis and Berkeley campuses) and the Wentworth Institute of Technology.

In addition to her significant positions of employment, her leadership and influence are evidenced by the prominent roles she has taken on at various levels in our field. She has served as a member of the American Library Association's (ALA) governing Council and as a member of the ALA Executive Board. She has completed multiple terms on the Executive Board of the ALA Black Caucus. Additionally, Dr. Knowles has been involved as a trustee for both the Freedom to Read Foundation and the Massachusetts State Library. She also served on the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, including as its chair.

Throughout her decades of dedicated service to the profession, Dr. Knowles has been recognized numerous times for her tireless efforts and achievements. A selection of the accolades she has received include: the Sojourner Truth Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc.; the Professional Achievement Award and the Distinguished Service Award, both from the ALA Black Caucus; the Outstanding Public Service Leadership Award from Simmons College; and the Recognition for Outstanding Service to Campus Award from the University of California, Davis. These awards, among the many others that have been bestowed upon her, recognize her selfless commitment to bettering the lives of others through her work, at the heart of which lies library education.

Arguably, Dr. Knowles' greatest influence on library education — and our profession — has been her unparalleled work surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion. Her publications, speaking engagements and professional activities have resulted in her becoming known worldwide as an authority on these matters. Thanks to Dr. Knowles, library education and librarianship have been challenged and positively influenced through her contributions. Furthermore, Dr. Knowles not only writes and speaks extensively, but she also spends countless hours in other service to help diversify our profession. This is exemplified through her unfailing efforts with the ALA Spectrum Scholarship Program, the ALA Black Caucus, and the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color. In addition to her time, knowledge, and seemingly boundless energy, Dr. Knowles has raised thousands of dollars for students through programs like the Spectrum Scholarship Program.

The impact that Dr. Knowles has had on library education is vast and lasting. She has helped change the face of the profession, and she has done so in a way that is truly unique to her. As evidenced by the students and colleagues who wrote in support of Dr. Knowles' nomination for this award, her wisdom, warmth, advocacy, passion for student success and uncanny ability to have time for every student who seeks her out are among the characteristics that make her such a quintessential and successful mentor. Today, our profession is filled with individuals who, one way or another, have been guided by Dr. Knowles.

The 2017 Beta Phi Mu Award Jury is comprised of Emily A. Bergman, Glendale Community College, Glendale, California; Roberto C. Delgadillo, University of California, Davis; Dr. Karen E. Downing, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Dorothy M. Persson, retired librarian, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa; and J. Kevin Reynolds, Jury Chair, Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The Beta Phi Mu Award will be presented on Sunday, June 25, 2017, at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago.


Cheryl Malden

Program Officer

American Library Association