Beverly Lynch Awarded Melvil Dewey Medal by the American Library Association

Visionary leader Beverly Lynch continuously mentors IS students to successful careers.

Beverly Lynch says that she doesn’t usually look for accolades. However, when the onetime president of the American Library Association (ALA) receives the highest professional honor in the field of library and information studies, she says she is – understandably – “thrilled.”

“It’s nice to have the medal named for Melvil Dewey,” states Lynch, a professor of information studies in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS) at UCLA. “He is considered the founder of the field in many ways, so I’m gratified and humbled that the profession has honored me this way.”

The award, which is named for the American librarian, educator, and inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, is ALA’s most prestigious honor, given in recognition of an individual who has demonstrated a high level of creativity in leadership. Lynch, who directs the GSE&IS Senior Fellows Program, a professional development program for senior level academic librarians from across the country, feels that her willingness to mentor new and emerging leaders is part of what garnered her the award. In turn, 16 members of the UCLA Senior Fellows Class of 2010 whom Lynch advised have recently established a fund in her honor to support scholarships for information studies students.

The donors include Michael Brewer, Team Leader for Instructional Services, University of Arizona Libraries; Faye A. Chadwell, Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian and OSU Press Director, Oregon State University; Kathleen De Long, Associate University Librarian, Human Resources and Teaching/Learning, University of Alberta Libraries; Ted Fons, Executive Director, Data Services & WorldCat Quality, OCLC; Catherine Friedman, Associate University Librarian for User Services, UC San Diego Libraries; Mike Furlough, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarly Communications, Penn State University Libraries; Catherine Gerdes, Assistant University Librarian for Financial Planning and Administrative Services, UNC Chapel Hill University Library; Carol Hunter, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Services, UNC Chapel Hill; Elizabeth E. Kirk, Associate Librarian for Information Resources, Dartmouth College Library; Michele Reid, Dean of Libraries, North Dakota State University; Marianne Ryan, Associate University Librarian for Public Services, Northwestern University; and Deborah Stansbury Sunday, Assistant Dean, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, UC Irvine.

Four members of the 2010 Senior Fellows cohort are UCLA alumni, including Diane Bisom (’80, MLIS), Associate University Librarian, Information Technology & Systems, UC Riverside; Julie Garrison (’95, MLIS), Associate Dean, Research and Instructional Services, Grand Valley State University Libraries: Scott Garrison (’94, MLIS), Dean (Senior Fellows, Class of 2012), FLITE Library, Ferris State University; and Mark Stover (’88, MLIS), Dean, Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge.

“I have mentored and brought along a lot of junior library professionals,” Lynch says.  “I try to give them the opportunity to take risks that won’t hurt them too much if they fail. I’ve placed a lot of people in very good jobs and continue to do that, particularly among the Senior Fellows.”

Along with this out-of-the-box approach as a role model, Lynch also expressed her visionary leadership by establishing the California Rare Book School (CalRBS) in 2005. Now directed by Susan Allen, the continuing education program for librarians, archivists, booksellers, and collectors has reached major league status in the field and raised the profile of California’s wealth of libraries, special collections, and archives.

“The California Rare Book School is very young, compared with the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia,” Lynch notes. “Yet the two programs are often mentioned in the same breath, so that for me is very gratifying.

“There’s a strong cadre of libraries here, with great and extraordinary special collections,” she asserts. “But there was no training program on the West Coast. We have a lot to offer here, and there is a great interest among library professionals across the country in CalRBS.”

Lynch earned her bachelor’s degree as a double major in English and music at North Dakota State University and her master’s degree in library science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was honored as a distinguished alumna in 1987.  She achieved her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and was presented with its Distinguished Alumna Award in 2009.

Dr. Lynch has worked in various professional positions in the libraries of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Marquette University, and Yale University, and also at the Plymouth Central Library in Plymouth, England. In 1972, she was appointed executive secretary of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association. While in this position, she directed revisions of the Standards for College Libraries and Community College Libraries and development of the first statement of Standards for University Libraries. In addition, Lynch proposed and designed the first national ACRL conference and directed a project to enhance leadership in libraries serving historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Her work with this conference subsequently led to the publication of statistics on the HBCUs’ libraries, which remains a continuing project of ACRL. Along with serving as ALA president for 1985-86, Lynch has been involved extensively in the organization, including serving on the ALA Council and as chair of the Committee on Accreditation, the International Relations Committee, the Budget and Finance Committee, and numerous other committees and task forces.

In 1977, Lynch was appointed university librarian and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she led the library for 12 years, developing it into a major research library that was admitted to membership in the Association of Research Libraries in 1988. She was appointed dean of what was then the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at UCLA in 1989.

In 2000, Lynch was appointed interim president of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) while on leave from UCLA. During her CRL presidency, she restructured the Center’s finances, established the International Coalition of Newspapers project, designed a project that led to a new strategic plan for the Center, and created the organization that established the Digital South Asia Library, a collaboration between CRL and the University of Chicago.

Professor Lynch is the author of six books, including “The Academic Library in Transition,” published in 1989 by Neal Schuman. She served as guest editor for a special 2000 issue of the journal Libri, which focused on the theme of “Freedom of Expression.” Recent articles include “Professional Associations and Library Education,” which appeared in RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage (2010) and “Library Education: Its Past, Its Present, Its Future, which was published online in Ideals (Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship)” (2008).  She has lectured and published widely in the U.S., Europe, and the Far East in the areas of library management, organizational design, and standards for libraries.

In 2009, Lynch received the Joseph W. Lippincott Award from ALA for distinguished service to the profession of librarianship. The one-time president of ALA says that, although such accolades are gratifying, her greatest satisfaction is when the work of her mentees is recognized.