Dr. Clara M. Chu wins Beta Phi Mu Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 05/22/2018


Cheryl Malden

Program Offier


American Library Association



CHICAGO — Dr. Clara M. Chu, Mortenson Distinguished Professor and director of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign, and an affiliated faculty at The iSchool of Illinois, has been selected as the 2018 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. Chu holds a bachelor’s degree from University of British Columbia and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Western Ontario. Prior to her current position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she was a Professor and Department Chair of the Library and Information Studies Department at University of North Carolina—Greensboro. Her previous position was as Associate Professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, Department of Library and Information Studies.

She has received the Achievement in Library Diversity Research honor, served as co-chair on the Diversity Recruitment and Mentoring Committee at UCLA, and was recipient of the 2002 ALA Equality Award. Her leadership role of principal investigator for Program PRAXIS, A Pre-Doctoral and Recruitment Program for Tomorrows Culturally Diverse Information Studies, informed the development of the Academic and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) Scholars program at UNCG to increase cultural diversity in UNCG’s program and in the library and information field as a whole. Both of these projects were funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Dr. Chu was the winner of the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), the association’s highest honor. She is serving as the American Library Association’s (ALA) representative to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. In this capacity, she advocates for “the transformational role of libraries and ensuring information access for all, in strategic alignment with UNESCO priorities.” She is active in many professional organizations, including CALA, ALA, Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE), International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and others. In addition, she has been honored nationally and internationally with multiple awards that mark her commitment to excellence in the profession.

Dr. Chu’s impressive multilingual contributions to the field include her extensive publication record of articles, over 40 refereed articles and book chapters, as well as her co-authored book, Educating the Profession: 40 years of the IFLA Section on Education and Training. She is a highly sought-after speaker, as well as an active consultant. Dr. Chu has successfully led at least sixty grants, many of them contribute to her interests in diversity and multiculturalism.

We want to acknowledge that her work is notable for extending beyond the classroom, and most recently in support of Southeast Asian refugees. Her background in language, literature, and psychology has helped support the local, national, and international community. Her transnational, ethnic minority and multilingual background has been especially important to her students as they develop their own courses of study and research. She has been the recipient of many awards, but her greatest reward comes from the respect and appreciation she has earned from her students, colleagues, and community members as well as her commitment to being an encouraging educator.

The impact of Dr. Chu’s influence on the profession is clear from the letters in support for Dr. Chu’s nomination for this award. Her encouragement, intellectual scope and the care she takes with her students is widely felt and extremely important. Our profession has benefited greatly from the students who have been guided by her throughout the years.

The 2018 Beta Phi Mu Award Jury is comprised of Emily A. Bergman, Glendale Community College, Glendale, California; Deana Groves, Western KY University, Bowling Green, KY; Susan Polos Fox Lane High School in Bedford, NY; Neely Tang, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; and Annie Zeidman-Karpinski, Jury Chair, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.

The Beta Phi Mu Award will be presented on Sunday, June 24, 2018, at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. 

More information about the Beta Phi Mu Award including how to submit a nomination is available at the ALA website (www.ala.org).