ALA Godort's James Bennett Childs Award Page:
Grace York Nomination Letters

Diane VanderPol's Nomination Letter on behalf of Grace York:

I nominate Grace York, Head of the University of Michigan Government Documents Center, for the James Bennett Childs Award.

Where does one begin when attempting to list the contributions made by Grace York to the documents community! The first to come to mind is her creation of The Documents Center, whose award winning web site has set the standard for providing government information on the web. The site is so comprehensive that the OCLC WorldCat database has records not only for the site’s home page, but also for many of its individual pages. Content is not limited to government information links, although these are plentiful. There are also subject guides and other teaching tools that are used far beyond the University of Michigan community.

Grace was a pioneer in putting government information online. As early as 1991 she distributed census data on the internet, and in 1993 and 1994 she posted Congressional directories, committee memberships, and email addresses. The Documents Center web pages were preceded by her ULIBRARY Gopher’s Government Section, which served users from 1993 to 1997. Grace also pioneered interactive video tutorials and news feeds at the University of Michigan Library. These innovations are still relatively rare for a government documents library site.

The Documents Center website has pages that are especially useful for documents librarians (ALA GODORT’s Handout Exchange, begun in 1994; and the posting of GPO’s Administrative Notes, begun in 1995).

Grace has served on many advisory committees, including the Census 2000/Depository Librarians and for the Congressional Information Services’ Congressional Compass and Statistical Universe. She has also served on numerous committees for the American Library Association, including the Government Information Technology Committee, the GODORT Ad Hoc Committee on the Internet, and as secretary for the International Documents Task Force. At the state level she has served the Government Documents Round Table of Michigan as a founding member, board member, Vice President, Director at Large, and President; she has also been an elected member to the Michigan Council of Federal Depository Libraries.

Grace has published articles as well as reviewed books in professional journals. Her speaking engagements and conference presentations have been at the state, national (various state library associations; endnote speaker at the Federal Depository Library Conference), and even international level (International Conference on Government Information and Democracy, co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department in St. Petersburg, Russia). She has made thoughtful contributions to email discussion lists, and she has served as a virtual mentor to depository librarians throughout the country. On a personal note, I can say this mentoring has been very meaningful to me. She encouraged me to serve on the Michigan Council of Federal Depository Libraries, and she has been a willing advisor to me on government information questions that I’ve received from my own constituents and colleagues.

Grace, as well as her tireless efforts to make government information available to the public, has been honored in the past. Her web pages have been winning awards and receiving recognition since 1995. The Government Documents Round Table of Michigan has awarded her both the Paul W. Thurston Award and its Life Time Achievement Award. She has received the Marta Lange Award and the ALA Documents to the People Award.

The James Bennett Childs Award would be a worthy addition to this prestigious list. It is a pleasure to nominate Grace Ann York for this award.

List three people who would be willing to support your candidate's nomination. The Awards Committee will contact these individuals. ( Include name-address-phone)

Jon Harrison's Nomination Letter:

I am happy to nominate Grace York for the James Bennett Childs Award.

The James Bennett Childs Award is a tribute to 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.

Grace is an outstanding candidate in all of these areas.

Like the good and faithful servant mentioned in the Bible (Matt 24:14-30), Grace has been entrusted with many talents, and she has used those talents throughout her life to forward the cause of government documents librarianship.

Thanks to the proximity of the University of Michigan School of Information, Grace has had the fortune to work with and direct the activities of numerous graduate students in the University of Michigan Documents Center. Many of these students have gone on to become noted documents librarians themselves, such as Cass Hartnett who served for a time at the Regional Depository at the Detroit Public Library and who now serves at the Regional Depository at the University of Washington Library.

Grace has also been able to leverage the work experiences of these students on behalf of the world of government documents, encouraging them to complete numerous guides and web pages which have been in turn incorporated into the award-winning University of Michigan Document Center “Government Resources on the Web”, a central clearinghouse of government documents information famous throughout the nation.

And Grace herself has a long record of achievement. She was one of the original organizers of the Government Documents Round Table of Michigan, and has served in numerous capacities in this organization over the years, constantly encouraging her fellow documents librarians and enthusiasts to provide “documents to the people”. In her own words:

"Membership support is vital to fulfilling the objectives of Godort of Michigan. Each member can make a contribution in his or her own area of expertise -- whether it be suggesting a program, speaking at a program, contacting speakers, or handling local arrangements. Hesistance to volunteer is understandable. Any first effort is difficult. However, conference sponsorship provides an opportunity for professional growth. It makes an outstanding addition to one's resume. Godort of Michigan will assist its members in planning and conducting any workshop. Most important, these activities are an important step toward bring documents to the people." Quote from Grace Ann York, April 24, 1979, appearing in Red Tape: The Official Newsletter of the Government Documents Round Table of Michigan, No. 3, May/June 1979.

Grace has served in almost every office available in the Government Documents Round Table of Michigan and has provided numerous programs and updates on documents news through the years. In the early days of the Internet, Grace even created and still maintains a Michigan Documents Discussion Group called Govdoc-M to foster communication at the state level.

In addition, Grace’s light has shown on the documents community and the national and international level as well, kind of like the Hope Diamond shining forth on a bed of coal. She has served on countless committees, made numerous wise observations, and won numerous awards for her efforts. No wonder that the U.S. Department of State asked her to travel all the way to St. Petersburg and Moscow in 2000 to discuss the many pluses of open access to government information. And no wonder various parties of international librarians have made visits to the University of Michigan Documents Center, to meet with a major source of inspiration for documents enthusiasts worldwide.

And best of all, throughout all her efforts, Grace has never lost her enthusiasm or humor. As she stated once in regards to the Librarian’s Image in GOVDOC-L (January 6, 2003),

"I usually tell people I'm a Government Documents Librarian. It's my job to know where the bodies are buried and ensure the public's right to know. Great conversation piece."

Bruce Sarjeant's Nomination Letter:

Years before I became a documents librarian — or any sort of librarian — I was familiar with the work of Grace York. While working for the Census Bureau in the late 1990s, I discovered the online presence of the University of Michigan Documents Center. What a resource and influence it has been since then! Who hasn’t used it as a guide for one’s own web presence in the documents world, or referred patrons and colleagues to it time and time again? It is a great example of taking an incredible amount of information scattered throughout the www and compiling it into a usable resource for not just documents librarians, but everybody. A look at the number websites linking to the UM Documents Center (via Google) is well over 6,000.

Coming to Michigan to work has provided me the opportunity to meet Grace on several occasions. She is extremely knowledgeable, and can be quite candid and matter-of-fact. I have since learned that her awards are, deservedly, numerous, and she has dedicated her career to the field. I was looking forward to joining GODORT of Michigan and being part of the same group. She readily encourages all new documents librarians to get involved with the state group, and who can say no to that? I certainly didn’t!

Government Documents librarians (and Internet users) owe Grace a great deal. Her work in providing and compiling information online is something we perhaps often take for granted. I agree with my colleagues that Grace is deserving of the James Bennett Childs Award.

Eunice Teel's Nomination Letter:

I am writing this letter to support the nomination of Grace Ann York, Coordinator, Documents Center, University of Michigan for the James Bennett Childs Award.

I have been a Government Documents Coordinator at North Central Michigan College Library since 1994. Since I had no experience or training in what this entailed, the early years were quite a challenge; first one had to learn the intricacies of managing a depository collection, and even more daunting, to learn how to locate and use the wealth of information available. I remember that Grace York’s name popped up on postings to government document listservs and in conversations at meetings with other libraries in our region. Even then, I remember being impressed with her knowledge and her knack for communicating that knowledge to a beginning documents librarian.

Grace set the banner high when she created the University of Michigan Documents Center, long before most of us knew how to create a web page. It has always been a model of clarity and organization, and I know I have directed students to these pages hundreds, if not thousands of times through the link I subsequently put on my library’s home page. The section titled Statistical Resources is the first point of reference for the Macroeconomics classes that I instruct.

I was fortunate to be able to hear Grace speak at several meetings; the most memorable was a presentation on American Factfinder, when the 2000 Census data first appeared. I still remember her excitement as she showed us the data sets that were available, and her confession that she’d stayed up all night to prepare for this presentation because she was so thrilled to be able to share this new information! I left that meeting feeling energized and awed by her enthusiasm and expertise. She continues to provide up-to-the minute resources for her students and inspiration for the documents community through her continuing advocacy of the dissemination of government information, as well as tutorials and interactive exercises that she has created and made available on her website.

Finally, if anyone has any doubt about the impact Grace York has made, and the significant contribution she has made to documents librarianship, go to Google and perform a search for “Grace York.” A few of the comments from the 15,000 hits (the first 1000 almost exclusively about her) refer to Grace as a “pioneer,” “guru,” “mentor,” “inspirational,” and “renowned,”; references to the University of Michigan Documents Center Web Site describe it as “thought-provoking,” “world class,” and “extremely comprehensive.” She is mentioned on pages from the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and China.

I think this posting from the Newsletter of the Documents Section of the North Carolina Library Association sums up what I’m trying to convey about Grace: “For those of you who don’t already know, Grace York, the Documents Librarian at University of Michigan, and creator of one of the best government information sites available, will be speaking at 2:30 on Wednesday, October 3rd. Her talk, titled “The Web Came True: What Do We Do?” will discuss the impact of web based information on the profession. It’s sort of like having Betty Crocker come to talk about cakes. It doesn’t get any better.”

P.S. Special thanks to Diane VanderPol (Documents and Reference/Instruction Librarian, Hekman Library, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, 1855 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546) for having the heart and initiative to nominate others for this and other awards over the years! The Red Tape Editor

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