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May 13, 2004

Leading the way: UW Libraries named recipient of top honor

News and Information

The Husky Marching Band will play, President Lee Huntsman will speak and Red Square will ring with the sounds of celebration at noon on Monday, all because of a high honor — the very highest, in fact — earned by the UW library system.


What’s the occasion? The UW libraries have been named the recipient of the 2004 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), together with Blackwell’s Book Services, the esteemed London-based international bookseller.


The award is given annually to the best in each of three categories: libraries at colleges, universities and community colleges. In each case, the award reflects the highest honor a library in North America can receive.


At noon Monday in Red Square, a representative of Blackwell’s and the library association will be on hand to present President Huntsman and Betsy Wilson, director of University Libraries, with the award and an additional nicety — a check for $3,000.


Upon announcement of the award, back in February, Wilson was quick to spread the compliment out among all those who make the UW libraries work so well.


“This award goes to the superb librarians, staff and student assistants who dedicate themselves to serving the mission of the University of Washington and connecting people with knowledge for life,” Wilson said. “They have earned this award by what they do day-in and day-out. It’s a very proud day for the UW Libraries and a red-letter day for the University.”


The association’s selection committee evaluates libraries on three basic criteria:



  • Creativity and innovation in meeting the needs of the community,
  • Leadership in creating model programs that other universities emulate, and
  • Substantial and productive relationship with faculty and students.


The UW Libraries system was chosen, according to the library association, for its leadership role among academic libraries in starting new programs and services.


These include innovative digital collections, informational literacy for the University campus, creative staff development and model strategic planning efforts. Special mention also went to the system’s UWired program, which works with other campus offices to promote and support effective use of technology by students and faculty.


Mary Reichel, chair of the 2004 Excellence in Academic Libraries Selection Committee, praised the UW Libraries system, saying it is “a dynamic, impressive and collaborative organization. It truly is leading the way for all academic libraries as the library of the 21st century.”


The UW library system — a network of 25 facilities serving three campuses — has a collection of more than 6 million catalogued volumes and an equal number in microfilm format, more than 50,000 serial titles and several million items in other formats. More information on UW Libraries is available online at http://www.lib.washington.edu