In July, the University Libraries was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest honor given to museums and libraries. We were one of only five libraries and five museums to receive the Medal, and only the third research library in the award’s 23-year history to garner this recognition! The quote, from Dr. Hornbacher’s letter of nomination, captures the essence of the award: the University of Minnesota Libraries serves a large and cascading number of communities from campus to a global audience. Our reach and our impact are remarkable… and award-worthy!
The Medal is a wonderful honor and recognizes the innovative contributions of our talented staff. Whether it’s partnering with faculty to enrich the curriculum, preserving critical data in support of groundbreaking research, or sharing our distinctive collections with individuals around the state or around the world — the Libraries makes a notable difference in the lives of tens of thousands of students, faculty and scholars, and the general public.
—Judy Hornbacher, Past President, Friends of the Libraries
This issue of continuum explores several exemplary Libraries’ programs, each illustrating the distinct impact recognized in the Medal. You’ll read about our work to enhance student success through our peer research consultants and SMART Learning Commons, as well as the compelling data about improved outcomes for undergraduate library users. The Transgender Oral History Project is ensuring that our Tretter Collection in GLBT studies captures the important archival record about transgender experiences in the United States. And the Umbra: Search African American History project offers a unique tool to explore digital resources dealing with the African American experience, culled from nearly 1,000 institutional partners across the country.
Grants and private philanthropy play a significant role, enhancing and leveraging University support to enable new initiatives. The Transgender Oral History Project is supported by a generous gift from TAWANI Foundation. And the Umbra Search project has had funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (the federal agency that sponsors the National Medal), supporting educational programming for other archives and to further use of Umbra Search in schools.
It has been gratifying to receive dozens of messages from near and far congratulating us on receiving the National Medal. Many have commented on the model programs we’ve launched. Others have noted the impact we’ve had within the library community, raising the profile and underscoring the value of research libraries. Alumni and friends have shared their pride in all that the Libraries does, particularly in serving Minnesotans and offering engaging public programs. One of my favorite communiques, however, offered a simple statement: “Wow, how cool is this?” That says it all.
—Wendy Pradt Lougee
University Librarian, McKnight Presidential Professor