Library dean wins national excellence award

Library dean wins national excellence award

Dorothy J Davison, the dean of Wagner College’s Horrmann Library, was among the 10 winners of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award, given on December 18 at the Times Center in Manhattan.

This national award for librarians is jointly sponsored by the American Library Association, the New York Times and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The ALA has administered the award since it was first given in 2008.

Nominations were open to librarians working in public, school, college, community college and university libraries. In all, more than 1,500 nominations were received for this year’s award.

Dean Davison earned her B.A. from CUNY’s Richmond College, her MALS from Rutgers University, and her master’s degree in library science from the Pratt Institute. Davison came to Wagner College from the New York Public Library in 1999, first serving as head of reference. She was named dean of the Horrmann Library in 2000.

Dorothy Davison’s nomination for the I Love My Librarian Award was submitted jointly by eight members of the Wagner College faculty. One of those faculty members, sociology professor John Esser, described the context of Davison’s achievement:

Given that the library is the heart of a liberal arts college community, what is a college to do when its library is on life support? In our case, Wagner College hired Dorothy Davison. …

Wagner College almost closed due to finances during the late 1980s. By the late 1990s, it had recovered somewhat, but the library was still cash-starved and mismanaged. The library was a too-small building, behind the times technologically, and stuffed with out-of-date books and periodicals. It offered few-to-no proactive services to faculty teaching students about research.

When Dorothy Davison was hired, she went about changing things. ... She quickly instituted a plan to bring the library to the edge of new technological developments. She concentrated the collections and used the space this opened up for a writing center, a smart room for classes, and smart labs for collaborative student work. She and her new staff established a program of [research-intensive] peer tutors. … In short, she thoroughly integrated the library, its resources and its services into the teaching curriculum of the college.

Art historian Laura Morowitz described the difference Davison’s leadership had made in the research capacity of the Horrmann Library:

In her time at Wagner, Dean Davison has turned our library from a sleepy, not-quite-functioning unit into an excellent, up-to-date and incredibly useful facility. From her hiring of an excellent staff, to her commitment to keeping completely up-to-date on all technological advances, to the new labs taught by her librarians, her excellence has permeated the entire library.
Thanks to Dean Davison’s stewardship, our students can now perform sophisticated research projects without leaving our campus. We now have access to a full array of journals and databases in our field. I am now confident that my students can find the assistance and materials they need for any research assignment I may give them by working at the Horrmann Library.

More information about the I Love My Librarian Award can be found online.


(Photo by Rita Reynolds)