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ASU librarian earns national recognition

April 08, 2009

Ann Dutton Ewbank has always travelled in some pretty heady company. As an Arizona State University education liaison librarian at the West campus’ Fletcher Library, she has worked hand-in-hand with some of the university’s top minds, assisting in the selection of research materials, where to find expert commentaries, and generally connecting professors with resources. She does the same for college degree-seeking students, introducing undergraduates and graduates alike to the amazing resources of the ASU Libraries.

Ewbank, in fact, is a mover and a shaker, and has been recognized as such by no less an authority than Library Journal, the 132-year-old industry voice that has named her among the country’s top 50 “2009 Library Journal Movers & Shakers” for her advocacy efforts to inform the public – especially city, state and national legislators – about the role librarians play in developing 21st-century literacies in today’s students.

“Ann’s contributions go well beyond her responsibilities at the Fletcher Library,” says University Librarian Sherrie Schmidt, who has been at the university for 18 years and oversees its seven libraries and over 4 million volumes, plus a rich proprietary electronic collection of books and journals.  “She is well respected by her peers across Arizona and the nation.

“Libraries have been changing at a rapid rate, and Ann’s recognition telegraphs to others that you can become a model for other librarians at ASU.”

Ewbank, who earned her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction and language and literacy from ASU in 2005, moved from Dayton, Ohio, to GlendalePhoenix.  Her advocacy fits in well with her responsibilities to assist faculty and students as they make their way through the modern, 102,856-square-foot, award-winning library. as a 13-year-old and as a high school student watched the West campus and its signature Fletcher Library spring from a 300-acre patch of desert in northwest

“Faculty and students are sometimes so busy and overwhelmed that they may not know the incredible resources that ASU Libraries has,” says Ewbank, who says the view of the New River Mountain Range from Fletcher’s third floor can’t be beat.  “I do my best to connect them with the resources so they are successful in their academic endeavors.

“Advocacy about the power of libraries and information that is available to students and faculty is important.  I am constantly advocating for ASU Libraries.  The library has a place in every student and faculty member’s educational pursuits.”

On a local level, Ewbank, who received her B.S. in secondary education and social science from Northern Arizona University in 1996, and her M.A. from the University of Arizona in information resources and library information in 2001, joined her librarian colleagues earlier this year to launch a campaign, Fund Our Future Arizona, to prevent nearly 80 certified school librarians from being replaced by clerks in Mesa public schools.  The grassroots effort was highlighted at the 2008 American Library Association (ALA) conference.

The Library Journal, in its recognition of Ewbank, noted, “At the national level, Ewbank is planting flags for school librarians as part of a group that brought policy concerns of school librarians to ALA’s attention, which resulted in the proposed SKILLs Act, which would amend the No Child Left Behind Act to encourage school districts to staff every school library with a certified teacher-librarian.”

With the advent of high-technology and its many avenues of information dissemination, Ewbank believes the importance of a brick-and-mortar refuge such as Fletcher Library – winner of a prestigious Honor Award, the top recognition of design excellence from the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects – for those looking for a favorite book or a resource material for research or a capstone project has not been compromised.

“The physical library is still extremely important, even in a world of increased electronic communications,” she says. “Students are getting help from library staff, studying, working in groups, socializing and resting.  As a liaison librarian, we are in the relationship business – we have to cultivate relationships with students and faculty in order to help them connect with the information they need to be successful. The physical library serves as a space for those relationships to develop.”

Ewbank’s recognition is especially rewarding to master librarian Schmidt, who has seen her librarians win the coveted award three times in the past five years.

“I’m extremely proud that ASU librarians are recognized as exemplars,” she says. “This means that our ASU users are provided with an outstanding level of library service, and that level of service is worthy of being emulated by others.”