Leslie Sult talks about the ACRL/ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award

ACRL’s University Library Section has a new award, the Outstanding Professional Development Award, which is going to be sponsored annually by Library Juice Academy. Leslie Sult was one of the people involved in creating the award, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to interview her about it for this blog.

Leslie, thanks for agreeing to do the interview.

Hi! Thanks for interviewing me!

I’d like to start by asking you to describe what the award is.

The ACRL ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award was created to recognize librarians, archivists or curators whose contributions to providing professional development opportunities for librarians have been especially noteworthy or influential. The contributions may be the result of continuous or distinguished service to the profession. People can also be recognized for their active, innovative or collaborative work in the realm of professional development.

Very nice. I think there is a need for something like that. It will be nice to highlight this kind of work. I understand that you were involved in it from the start. Do you want to describe how it began? How does something like that get created?

Wow – Let me think about that. I was involved in it form the start. In 2011, the then chair of ULS, Kim Leeder, contacted me to ask me if I’d be willing to chair an ad-hoc award committee for ULS. The committee was charged with “exploring the possibilities for creating a ULS award and hopefully making it happen!”. Kim Leeder (now Kim Reed) is awesome, so I told her I’d be happy to. The committee got underway and came up with a few different ideas for awards, but the idea that had the most interest and traction was the one that focused on recognizing people for contributing to the professional development of librarians. Once the focus of the award was determined, a small implementation committee was appointed and we worked with ACRL to draft and vet the award and get it approved. Beth Filar Williams and Jason Martin did a great job keeping the committee moving and getting the award through the ACRL approval process, and my department head, Michael Brewer, helped a ton with the drafting of the actual award – it was a big group effort and a lot of fun to see so many people get involved and help out.

Thanks for that summary of the process. So now I assume a committee has been formed to actually look at nominations and select a winner. Is that right?

Yes – this is the first year that the award will be made – thanks a big bunch to Library Juice Academy for the sponsorship!. The vice-chair of ULS, Rebecca Blakiston, has appointed an award committee and I think submissions are due by December 4th. It will be exciting to see who will be recognized once the committee reviews the nominees.

What kind of professional development projects do you expect to see from nominees?

That is what I think makes the award so exciting – I think it can span a number of things from people providing training within their own institutions, to people that are offering great online courses, or that are trying things with online chat discussions or a combination of a number of different approaches. I could see book or journal editors being nominated for the one-on-one mentoring and professional development that they provide to authors just like I can imagine instructors in Library Juice Academy or instructors in the various courses that ALA and ACRL offer being recognized.

People are expected to nominate their peers. Have many nominations come in yet? What are you doing to get the word out about the award?

Since I am not actually on the selection committee, I am not sure – the ULS Vice-Chair is the person that is running the award committee. I know that ULS has sent out a number of emails to encourage people to nominate their peers – I hope we get a big response!

I hope so too. I’m excited about the award. Neither of us has mentioned, it’s for $1,000, so it’s a nice chunk of change for the winner. I hope that motivates people to nominate. So to wrap up, I should ask how people can get more details about the award, things like criteria and such.

It is a great chunk of cash, the recipient will also get a certificate, which is nice to have as well! If people are interested in nominating a colleagues they can go to this URL for additional information and to access the nomination form. Thanks for taking the time to highlight ACRL ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award!

And congratulations to you for getting the award off the ground. Thanks again for the interview.

Thanks for the opportunity.