An iSchool professor and student have won the ALCTS Outstanding Publication Award. Sayward Schoonmaker G’19 and Professor Rachel Clarke won the award for their article, “Metadata for diversity: Identification and implications of potential access points for diverse library resources.” The award will be presented at the 2020 ALCTS Awards Ceremony in Chicago later in June 2020.

The Outstanding Publication Award is given to the author or authors of the most outstanding monograph, article, or original paper in the field of technical services. Papers are judged on the basis of intellectual content, practical value, theoretical value, scholarship, presentation, and style.

The ALCTS is the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. It is a division of the American Library Association. For their work, Schoonmaker and Clarke will win a citation and $250 for their work.

This is not the first time the two have won awards for their work in scholarship. In 2018, the two won the best paper proposal award from a sub-committee of the Association for Information Science & Technology. The winning article focused on creating a new type of library catalog, one that uses metadata to create an “affirmative action” system to expose users to resources from traditionally marginalized communities. The new catalog would call for diverse sources from a unique set of authors.

Closing the Information Gap

Their new winning paper focuses on metadata elements, particularly in their role in providing access to diverse reading materials. This also deeply looks into what metadata elements are needed to offer access to these diverse reading materials.

Clarke says that she thought the research was important because many library catalogs don’t retrieve works from authors who represent marginalized communities, such as works by women, LGBQT+ indigenous communities, etc. In doing so, Clarke believes that people will be able to access reading material created by people with marginalized identities, therefore closing the information gap between community members and scholars. The focus on metadata was especially needed, given that these materials need metadata to exist in traditional library catalogs.

Moving forward, Clarke’s research will continue to take shape as an educational tool, “Sayward and I used the findings from this work to build a prototype library catalog that retrieves and surfaces works from these communities. Although our prototype was not intended to be commercially viable, preliminary feedback from librarians shows a lot of interest in using it as a teaching tool. We hope to focus on this educational aspect in the future.”