University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Health and Science Librarian and UC Foundation Associate Professor Chapel Cowden was selected by the Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) as the recipient of the 2023 LIRT Librarian Recognition Award.
The Librarian Recognition Award was created to recognize an individual’s contribution to developing, advancing and supporting information literacy and instruction. Cowden is the 10th recipient of the award.
In announcing her for the honor, the ALA cited Cowden’s research on culturally responsive pedagogy in library instruction classes, her leadership and her membership on numerous committees. She received the award at the association’s annual conference in Chicago in late June.
“It was nice to be recognized by the American Library Association, the highest accrediting body for librarianship,” said Cowden, who received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from UTC in 2003 and a master’s in information sciences from UT Knoxville in 2012.
“I think for me, personally, it is sometimes difficult to think about taking credit, but I was excited to accept the award. My acceptance speech was about the work we do.”
A health and science librarian since 2013, Cowden said her work involves collaborating with faculty on curriculum and instruction, teaching “somewhere in the ballpark of 30 or so individual sessions over the course of a semester” about research and the research information environment.
It’s all about creating connections, she said.
“Teaching is a big part of what I do,” Cowden explained, “and I help people navigate that system. How do you find the right information at the right time to utilize in your work? And more importantly, how do you evaluate that information?
“So I’ll meet with students and I’ll also meet with faculty. We’re always looking to measure and maximize research impact and help them through the research process.”
Cowden, who began her UTC library career in 2008, previously served as the circulation day supervisor and as an archives specialist before moving into her current role. She also is an adjunct faculty member in the Honors College.
“I was thrilled to learn Chapel was recognized for her outstanding work by ALA,” said UTC Library Dean Theresa Liedtka, who called Cowden “a library leader at the local and national level.”
“We have been colleagues for over 15 years,” Liedtka said, “and Chapel has been instrumental in moving the Library forward in positive directions—be it through her pioneer work in digitizing special collections, developing a problem-based approach to instruction or exploring new forms of bibliometrics.”
Cowden has served on several national committees, including the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Science and Technology section’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and Implementation Team. She has held leadership roles on several other ACRL science and technology committees, including the Development Task Force, Research Committee and Professional Development Committee.
Library Instruction Round Table Librarian Recognition Award Recipients:
- 2013-2014: Kenneth Burhanna, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Engagement and Outreach, University Libraries, Kent State University
- 2014-2015: Dr. Lesley S.J. Farmer, Professor of Library Media, California State University Long Beach
- 2015-2016: Carolyn Sinkinson, Teaching and Learning Librarian, University of Colorado, Boulder
- 2016-2017: Jo Angela Oehrli, Learning Librarian, University of Michigan Shapiro Undergraduate Library
- 2017-2018: Emily Rimland, Information Literacy Librarian, Penn State University
- 2018-2019: Dr. Clarence Maybee, Associate Professor and Information Literacy Specialist, Purdue University
- 2019-2020: Melissa Bowles-Terry, Science Librarian, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- 2020-2021: Dr. Megan Oakleaf, Associate Professor and Director of Online Student Engagement, Syracuse University
- 2021-2022: Sara Lowe, Associate Dean for Educational Services, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis University Library
- 2022-2023: Chapel Cowden, Health and Science Librarian and UC Foundation Associate Professor, UTC