One of the highlights of the ALA Annual Conference is the recognition of important contributions to our profession. On Monday, I had the pleasure of presenting the John Ames Humphry / OCLC / Forest Press Award to Pat Oyler (associate dean and professor at Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science) for her contributions to international librarianship. Pat received this award for her significant contributions to library development in Vietnam, including cataloging standards, modern services, new technology application, and training and continuing education of librarians. Juli Beall and I have had the privilege of traveling with Pat to Vietnam on several occasions in support of her efforts, and Pat was instrumental in the development and publication of the Vietnamese translation of the DDC.
Yesterday, I had the honor of presenting the Melvil Dewey Medal to Jim Neal (vice president for information services and university librarian at Columbia University). Jim’s award citation reads in part:
In recognition of: his long and distinguished career as a director of three of America's most distinguished academic libraries; his role in effectively advocating for the interests of libraries in relation to intellectual property legislation and treaties at both the national and international levels . . .; his longstanding role in promoting changes in scholarly communication . . .; his vision and leadership in helping transform the roles, effectiveness, reach, and reputation of American's library organizations . . .; his steady, future-oriented promotion of an expansive and vital role for libraries through countless publications and speeches throughout the world; . . .
I also attended the presentation of the Margaret Mann Citation to Fran Miksa (emeritus professor, University of Texas School of Information). The Margaret Mann Citation recognizes outstanding professional achievement in cataloging or classification. One only needs to peruse the titles in Fran’s list of publications to see the key figures and topics he has tackled with vigorous scholarship over the years—Cutter, Dewey, Harris, Ranganathan, subject cataloging, classification in general, LCC and DDC, reference, LIS education, research libraries, and digital libraries. There are two books in our field that I re-read on a regular basis because of their intellectual freshness and ability to prompt new insights—one is Patrick Wilson’s Two Kinds of Power: An Essay on Bibliographical Control, and the other is Fran Miksa’s The DDC, the Universe of Knowledge, and the Post-modern Library. In the latter, Fran casts a critical historian’s eye on the Dewey Decimal Classification, library classification in general, the library as “public space” vs. “personal space,” and post-modernism (all in ninety-nine pages!). I remember being mesmerized in the audience at Fran’s July 1996 lecture on which the book is based, and his thoughts continue to provoke me thirteen years later.