Article By: Amanda D. Stein
University Librarian Eleanor Uhlinger displays her award after being named Federal Librarian of the Year on Oct. 6 at a ceremony held in Washington D.C. at the Library of Congress. Uhlinger joined NPS in 2006, and has overseen numerous renovation and improvement projects in her time at the Dudley Knox Library (DKL). The DKL collection includes 725,000 volumes, including 126,000 e-books, to serve the NPS and local communities. (U.S. Navy photo by Javier Chagoya/released).
On April 24, 1800, the Library of Congress (LC) was established as an act of Congress under a bill by President John Adams. Housed in the Capitol Building, the LC exclusively provided reference materials to members of Congress. It signified the beginning of what would become a vast and comprehensive network of federal libraries, serving both the government and the public. Today, LC is the largest library in the world, and houses millions of books, manuscripts, legal documents, films, maps, and audio recordings.
Under LC, the Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC) provides support to federal libraries around the world, large and small, encouraging interagency cooperation and information management. NPS’ Dudley Knox Library (DKL) is one such federal library, where University Librarian Eleanor Uhlinger works diligently to provide students, staff and faculty with the most comprehensive information services. On Oct. 6, Uhlinger was honored for her commitment to that mission when the FLICC named her Federal Librarian of the Year. In a ceremony held at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., Uhlinger was presented with a plaque by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, with NPS President Dan Oliver and Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson looking on.
“It was quite an honor to be selected for this award. There are over 2,000 federal libraries, so to be named the federal librarian of the year, I feel deeply honored,” said Uhlinger. “I feel like I accepted this award on behalf of the entire staff of the Dudley Knox Library, because everything we do together makes that award possible. We are working on providing information resources, services and spaces that enable students to take their working problems from the field, think critically about them, and find ways to solve them. To do that, we really have to provide resources that run the whole gamut … Air, sea, land – we cover it all.”
Uhlinger has been head librarian of DKL since March 2006, and in that time she has overseen numerous renovations and ongoing projects to improve the facilities and resources for the campus community. DKL boasts a collection of approximately 725,000 volumes, including 126,000 e-books. Through input from students and faculty, the library has gotten all new furniture and equipment to facilitate mobility and group studying throughout the building. New workstations, electrical outlets, network drops, electronic resources (books, databases and journals) and in-person or online tutorials have all been designed to give students the support they need. There have also been updates and developments to information workshops and programs available to students and faculty. The FLICC noted that the DKL has really thrived under Uhlinger’s leadership.
“[Uhlinger] is a transformational leader who championed the need for the library to be involved in all levels of accreditation, curriculum and program reviews,” the FLICC wrote in a press release announcing the award. “In 2009, she oversaw library renovations to create a combination of quiet and collaborative spaces with technology to enhance learning. Physical and virtual enhancements, coupled with their patron-friendly focus and promotion of staff initiatives, resulted in double digit increases in in-person reference requests, interlibrary loan and reserve item circulation, with only a limited increase in library expenditures.”
She also recently facilitated the opening of the Special Collections and Archives, a collection that includes photographs of the first NPS faculty members, early publications, course syllabi, and artifacts from the old Hotel Del Monte. The collection also includes a number of rare books on naval history donated in the 60s by a local resident. Uhlinger oversees all of this, and more, in her position as head librarian, and makes sure to stay active with the student council to hear the needs of the students.
“Eleanor is more than deserving of the honor. She and Irma Fink have both gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the students are the first priority in Dudley Knox services,” explained student council liaison, Maj. Oliver “Yoda” Kahler. “She has continually upgraded facilities and services with our input to give direction and make decisions that directly impact how we use DKL. The list of DKL improvements goes on extensively and all have occurred with student involvement at her request. I have never worked with a better and more responsive librarian.”