Cedarville University academic librarian Julie Deardorff was the recipient of this year’s Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award, which was presented by the Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO).
The ALAO recognized her for her efforts promoting academic libraries on the Cedarville campus and within the state as well as her work with the Centennial Library Careers Program, an influential library career exploration program in Ohio.
Deardorff said she had wanted to be a librarian since she could remember.
“I made a little card catalog for my books when I was in elementary school and would check them out to my siblings.”
She wasn’t discouraged in her career choice even when she had a slight career setback early on. “My local public library in Vermont turned me down when I asked about working there when I was about 8.”
She said her persistence paid off and they hired her 8 years later.
Deardorff went on to receive a BA in English from Gettysburg College (Pennsylvania) and an M.L.I.S. (master’s degree in library and information studies) from the University of Rhode Island.
She said she had originally intended to become a children’s librarian and said that she enjoyed encouraging children to read and love books as much as she did.
Deardorff came to Cedarville’s Centennial Library in 1996 to work with the faculty in building the library’s collection. Ten years ago she also started working with the Centennial Library’s Careers Program.
“Even though it wasn’t an official part of my job until very recently, working with the students considering library science as a career option has been the most rewarding parts of my job. Not only do I get to interact with them at a crucial time in their lives, as they are deciding who and what they want to be, but I am able to stay in touch with them as they go on to either become librarians or to use their gifts and skills in other creative ways,” said Deardorff.
Deardorff said that some of the students she has mentored have gone on to do some pretty cool things.
“One is currently a missionary librarian at a school in Rwanda, while another was selected to do graduate school internships at George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch library and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences library.”
When asked about how she felt when she learned she won Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award, Deardorff said just being nominated was a huge honor. “I honestly never expected to win given all the great things that academic librarians in Ohio are doing. It was a surprise to me to learn that a program that I thought was just helping Cedarville students make career choices is having an impact beyond our university and that some librarians are trying to replicate parts of it at their own universities.”
Other than winning the award Deardorff said that one of her fondest memories on the job was presenting a library science scholarship to the recipient during the university’s Honors Day chapel service. She said this is usually done by the Dean of Library Services.
In the future Deardorff says she has plans to develop more ways for students to get hands-on experience doing various types of library work. She said most students aren’t aware of how many different roles are needed for libraries to function in the current environment and that they all require different skills. She said exposing students to as many of these areas as possible is one of the characteristics that sets the Cedarville program apart from many library internships.
“I’d also like to find ways to include more students. Because the program is so labor intensive, we can’t currently accept as many interns as we have apply,” she said.
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