Kelvin Smith Library Wins National Award

Photo of provost, university librarian and ACRL reps

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) named the Kelvin Smith Library of Case Western University as the university recipient of the 2019 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award.  Sponsored by ACRL and GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO, the award recognizes the staff of a university library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institution.

“I am delighted that ACRL can highlight the many amazing accomplishments of academic libraries through this award,” said ACRL Executive Director Mary Ellen K. Davis. “This year’s winners demonstrate a clear commitment to student success, a creative and inventive mindset that results in innovative programs, and engagement with the local and campus communities. Receiving an Excellence in Academic Libraries Award is a tribute to each library and its staff for outstanding services, programs, and leadership.”

Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library, winner in the university category, was selected for its collaborative approach to problem solving.

“The Kelvin Smith Library partners to solve community problems and applies what they do to solve problems within their own community,” said Irene M.H. Herold, chair of the 2019 Excellence in Academic Libraries Committee and librarian of the college at the College of Wooster. “As quoted in their nomination, ‘Research can be used for the advocacy of communities experiencing disruption and inequality,’ and the Kelvin Smith Library is a shining model of this.”

“Noteworthy among numerous reported activities were the Freedman Fellowship for Digital Scholarship program, using space assessment data to make changes in support of student success, and its National Personal Librarian Conference,” Herold continued. “The library not only embodies their strategic plan goals of ‘research,’ ‘learn,’ and ‘experience’ in everything they do, but also is user feedback driven to ‘continuously redesign the library to ensure that new generations of students continue to respond positively so that they see the library as being their library.’”

The Freedman Student Fellowship for Digital Scholarship program supports full-time faculty with integrating new digital tools and technology into their research. Since its inception in 2010, the program has awarded over $90,000 to more than 50 faculty members for a wide range of projects, including a sexual assault kit initiative using ArcGIS visual mapping software to plot assault data, undergraduate student research on race and education in Cleveland Heights, and 3D imaging of artifacts from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to increase their accessibility through a virtual reality experience.

“We are elated to receive this important recognition of the collaborative achievements of our highly motivated and creative staff, who work tirelessly to ensure student success, advance research, and provide a conducive environment to stimulate a love of learning,” said Arnold Hirshon, associate provost and university librarian at Case Western Reserve University. “Our culture is one of unceasing reinvention, with a commitment to continuous exploration, experimentation, systematic program development, and rigorous assessment. Being the recipients of the ACRL award inspires us to persevere in our never-ending pursuit to provide pioneering, vibrant, and highly user-centric programs, services, and facilities for our university community.”


About Kelvin Smith Library. Kelvin Smith Library is the main library supporting the teaching and research of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, with emphasis given to the College of Arts and Sciences, the Case School of Engineering and the Weatherhead School of Management.

About ACRL.  The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for academic libraries and library workers. Representing more than 10,000 individuals and libraries, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products, and services to help those working in academic and research libraries learn, innovate, and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. ACRL is on the web at, Facebook at, and Twitter at @ala_acrl.