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Westminster College Librarians Receive Award for Innovation in College Librarianship

Thursday, March 28, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Erin Smith, Westminster College director of library services, and Jamie Kohler, cataloging and collection management librarian, have been named the 2013 recipients of the ProQuest Innovation in College Librarianship Award.

The honor was given by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) College Libraries Section for Smith's and Kohler's work on the Westminster College McGill Library mini golf orientation for first-year students.

"Our students have told us that the library can be an intimidating place because it is so big and there are so many items," Smith said. "So Jamie suggested setting up a mini golf course throughout the library as a way for students to get acquainted with the building and the staff in a low-pressure, non-threatening way."

The golf course consisted of four holes - each hole on a different floor of the library. Each hole also had a trivia question about a library collection or service. The students left the building with a working knowledge of where to find resources and the assurance that the library staff is available, approachable and willing to help the students.

"Westminster's program was innovative, targeted to an undergraduate population and easily replicated even if some other game or technique replaced mini golf," said award committee co-chairs Amy E. Badertscher, director of library services at Kenyon College, and Jessica O'Brien, technology and learning support librarian at Lenoir-Rhyne University. "We love the idea of bringing in students who are in the early stages of their college career to learn where things are and how they work in the library."

"We are thrilled to receive this recognition from our fellow college librarians," Smith said. "We would be remiss if we didn't say thank you to all of the people who made the event possible, particularly the Audio-Visual Services staff, all of our wonderful library student workers and SGA/Fresh Start Leaders who worked the course. We would also like to thank Dean Mann for supporting the idea in the first place: it takes a special administrator to see the educational value of turning a library into a golf course!"

Smith, who has been with Westminster since 2002, earned undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Tennessee.

Kohler, who has been with Westminster since 2011, earned her undergraduate degree from Juniata College and a master's from the University of Pittsburgh.

ACLR is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 12,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. Smith and Kohler will accept the award in June during the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

Westminster's McGill Library is open to the public and houses material on the fine arts, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences and technology. It also features a community section with a children's library.

Contact Smith at (724) 946-7327 or email for more information.

Erin Smith, director of library services
Jamie Kohler, cataloging and collection management librarian