Dr. Marcia Rapchak receives Beta Phi Mu Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/27/2021


Cheryl Malden

Program Officer


American Library Association



CHICAGO — Dr. Marcia Rapchak, teaching assistant professor of the School of Computing and Information, University of Pittsburgh, has been selected as the 2021 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.

Rapchak holds a Master of Arts in English from Ohio State University, a Master's of Science in Library Science for the University of Kentucky, and an Instructional Technology Doctorate in Education from Duquesne University.  She has developed an extensive record of scholarship and a lasting impression on her works as a scholar, professor, and colleague.

Rapchak took his vision for the future of library science education and began making it a reality through both her redesign of a 1-credit course taught at the Gumberg Library of Duquesne University and in her contribution to redesigning the Masters of Library and Information Science program at the University of Pittsburgh.  

Colleagues and students alike are eager to work with her, impressed by her ability to understand classroom pedagogy and translate it to the practice of librarianship. Her students describe her as inspiring.  Students in her Critical Librarianship and Information Professionals course appreciated the way she centered diversity and inclusion on creating equity and justice in the practice of librarianship. Noting that "her course moved past the performative activism and problematic celebratory multiculturalism librarianship is often accused of and pushed students to recognize systems of oppression in libraries and other knowledge organizations that disallow marginalized communities from fully benefiting from the services offered by our institutions and organizations."

She is equally skillful at engaging students outside of the classroom. She encourages them to demonstrate knowledge attainment through active learning experiences and participation in communities of practices that she also participates in. Additionally, students appreciate her course design and describe it as "immersive and experiential." This level of engagement was especially meaningful during the COVID-19 pandemic when despite the barriers, students still found the course engaging and praised her ability to "check-in."  

Rapchak's scholarship is also focused on the critical application of library science from both pedagogical and practical experience. Her focus on the adaptability of the ACRL Information Literacy standards for different audiences and formats demonstrates her understanding of the holistic nature of information literacy as a tool and skill. Her scholarship, which includes articles such as "Information Literacy and Adult Learners: Using authentic Assessment to Determine Skill Gaps" and Digital immigrants, Digital Learning: Reaching Adults through Information Literacy Instruction Online," provide an application of concepts that all teaching librarians can use. Further, she recognizes the limitation of the ACRL Framework as articulated in a recent article, "That Which Cannot Be Named: The Absence of Race in the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education."

The jury was impressed by Dr. Rapchak's scholarship and willingness to work directly with future librarians to build their knowledge, skills, and professional awareness.

The annual award will be presented on Sunday, June 27, 2021 at the American Library Association virtual Annual Conference. 

The 2021 Beta Phi Mu Award Jury is comprised of Emily A. Bergman, Glendale Community College, Glendale, California; Basco Buenaventura, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida; Janice L. Flug, Librarian Emerita from American University Library, Washington, DC; Paul McMonigle, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania; and Kimberley Bugg, Jury Chair, AUC Woodruff Library in Atlanta, GA. .

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