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The Library History Round Table (LHRT) announces the winner of the 2021 Justin Winsor Library History Essay

CHICAGO — The Library History Round Table (LHRT) is pleased to announce that this year’s Justin Winsor Library History Essay Award winner is Dr. Jennifer Burek Pierce for her paper, “More Than a Room with Books: The Development of Author Visits for Young People in Mid-Century U.S. Public Libraries.” Dr. Burek Pierce is associate professor at the University of Iowa’s School of Library and Information Science. Drawing on primary documents from ALA’s Post-War Planning Committee as well as contemporaneous local news articles, she thoroughly demonstrates how Newark Public Library’s youth services librarian Beatrice Schein not only exceeded ALA’s mandate to modernize the field following World War II, but also became a role model for other public librarians to emulate. Thus initiating the practice of inviting authors to visit the library in order to inspire young readers.

Citing Dr. Burek Pierce’s extensive use of primary documents to contextualize library programming of the post-war era, the Winsor selection committee unanimously chose this paper for its in-depth insights into a topic that few had previously considered. The author was praised for both her excellent research and accessible writing style. As one reviewer noted, “This paper is a joy to read. The writing is vivacious and enthusiastic, and it engages the reader’s intellectual curiosity.” Dr. Burek Pierce has been invited to submit her essay for possible publication in the official LHRT journal Libraries, Culture, History, and Society.

The Justin Winsor award is named in honor of the distinguished nineteenth-century librarian, historian, and bibliographer who was also ALA’s first president. To be eligible, essays must embody original, previously-unpublished historical research on a significant topic in library history, be based on primary sources, and use good English composition and superior style. The winner is awarded a certificate and $500 cash prize.

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