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Virginia Library Association honors retired university librarian with 2020 Supporter of Professional Associates Award

September 21, 2020

The Awards & Recognition Committee of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) announces that John Ulmschneider, retired Dean of Libraries and University Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been chosen for the 2020 Supporter of Professional Associates Award.

The VLAPAF Supporter of the Year Award (formerly known as the VLAPAF Supporter of Paraprofessionals Award) was established in 1996 as a means of recognizing an individual who has provided significant support to their staff and who has been a champion for library support staff in Virginia libraries. Ulmschneider was chosen for this award because throughout tenure with VCU Libraries, he successfully advocated for increased financial support from the university, increased staffing levels, strengthened state and regional partnerships, championed diversity, equity and inclusion, and created a culture of innovation at the VCU Libraries. He was among the first library directors in the commonwealth to champion the new institutional membership model for VLA, which provided every employee of VCU Libraries the opportunity to participate in training, attend conferences and connect with the larger community of library workers throughout Virginia.

Ulmschneider retired from Virginia Commonwealth University in July 2020 as Emeritus Dean of Libraries and University Librarian. Under his leadership, VCU Libraries became a member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in January 2018, the only U.S. academic institution to join ARL since 2002. VCU Libraries also was recognized with the 2018 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award in February 2018, joining 10 other ARL libraries with this distinguished honor. VCU’s expansion and revitalization of Cabell Library won the 2016 New Landmark Library Award, along with NC State’s Hunt Library and two other library buildings nationally recognized for ground-breaking designs. In recognition of his leadership at VCU and in the profession, Ulmschneider received the 2020 ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award in 2020.

The recipient demonstrated his support for staff involvement in VLA PAF by securing funding for them to attend conferences, participate in committee work and obtain training that provided career development and networking opportunities they would not have had otherwise.

When notified about this award, he said, "Throughout my career I have tried to support travel and development for all of my colleagues as expansively as possible, and I have seen the benefits every day for VCU Libraries. I’ve received many different kinds of recognition upon my retirement. This one is deeply moving to me, and I will cherish it. I can’t thank you enough for this award, which I consider the true capstone to my career.”

Reprinted from the Virginia Library Association website. Used with permission.

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