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U.Va.’s Barbara Selby Wins James Bennett Childs Award for Documents Librarianship

A manager of research and information services in the University of Virginia Library, Barbara (Barbie) S. Selby, has won the 2013 James Bennett Childs Award for lifetime achievement from the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association.

The award honors “an individual who has made a lifetime and significant contribution to the field of documents librarianship. The award is based on stature, service and publication, which may be in any or all areas of documents librarianship.”  

As a federal regional library, Alderman Library receives and keeps all United States government publications. In her role as regional librarian, Selby coordinates with smaller “selective” depositories – those selecting and keeping only a portion of the government’s output – around the state, assisting with information requests, interlibrary loans and outreach.    

“The staff at Alderman Library is expert at finding information in both printed and online government resources,” Selby said.

“Barbie exemplifies the values of the library community, especially that of equitable access to information for all citizens,” said Anne Houston, Selby’s supervisor and director of humanities and social sciences services at Alderman Library

“As the regional librarian for the state of Virginia, her work goes beyond the University of Virginia to help bring complete and accurate government information to all of the people of Virginia.”   

Selby’s nomination cited her leadership and dedication to providing access to government information, her commitment to communication with the selective depositories in Virginia as the regional librarian, her training initiatives, her work with the Government Documents Round Table and the Depository Library Council, and her written contributions and numerous presentations.

Selby’s extensive contributions span nearly 30 years.

As a regional librarian overseeing 39 “selective” depositories, Selby has fostered communication and provided opportunities for collaborative projects. She has regularly visited her selective depositories and helped to ensure that their collections fulfill the aspirations of the federal depository library program.

Recently, Selby led the writing of a new state plan for Virginia, developing – along with a team of government information librarians around the state – eight initiatives for creating opportunities to expand the public’s knowledge of government information and promote the services of depository libraries.

“Selby has been active on the national level in advocating for reform of our current depository library system and in building regional centers of excellence which ensure that comprehensive collections of information from federal agencies are gathered and preserved,” Houston said.    

During her tenure as a member and chair of the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer to the United States from 2003 to 2006, Selby was able to shape the thinking of both the depository community and the U.S. Government Printing Office toward a more flexible, forward-thinking Federal Depository Library Program.

She has continued to challenge the entire depository community to envision new and more creative ways to sustain the Federal Depository Library Program without compromising access to government information.

Several of the letters of support for Selby for this award cited her ability to think about library collections broadly and with a practical eye – and always with the user in mind. The letters also praise her skill in inspiring documents professionals with her expertise, her strong interpersonal relationships and her enthusiasm for public access to government information.

 “That she has been recognized by a national organization shows the wide impact of her work,” Houston said. “I can’t imagine anyone deserving this award more than Barbie.”

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