UH Manoa Library Curator receives Lifetime Achievement Award, upholds family tradition

Award received for work in Pacific Islands Librarianship; only other recipient is father

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Jonelle Sage, (808) 956-9932
UH Manoa Libraries
Arlene Abiang, (808) 956-5637
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Dec 20, 2006

HONOLULU—Dr. Karen M. Peacock, curator of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library‘s Pacific Collection, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the closing ceremony of the 16th annual Pacific Islands Association of Libraries and Archives (PIALA) Conference last month. The only other recipient of the award is her father, Daniel J. Peacock, who received the honor in 1998. Daniel Peacock is considered the "father of Micronesian librarianship," and was recognized for his work in developing libraries throughout the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands as its director of library services.

"I am deeply honored and was completely surprised by the award," said Peacock. "The members of PIALA are extremely generous, and I am so grateful for their friendship through the years, and for their kind recognition at the conference."

The ceremony was held at the Belau National Museum amphitheatre in Palau, and the award was presented by PIALA President Aaron Sigrah of Kosrae Representatives from Hawaiʻi, the Marshall Islands, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Guam, CNMI, Yap and Palau presented gifts and lauded Peacock‘ deep personal impact on their islands, their libraries and on their personal and professional lives.

Raised in the Pacific Islands, Peacock calls Hawaiʻi her home, but says part of her heart is always in Micronesia. Since receiving her master‘s degree in library science from UH Mānoa in 1973, Peacock has combined both heart and home in her work for 33 years in the library‘s world- renowned Pacific Collection. She went on to earn her master‘s in Pacific Islands studies in 1978 and her PhD in History in 1990.

"Thanks to the work of my predecessors and my colleagues today, the Pacific Collection is the most comprehensive representation of information about the Pacific region in the world," Peacock said. "It is my daily joy and privilege to continue that legacy, and to work and correspond with the dedicated librarians throughout the Pacific Islands."

The Pacific Collection provides reference services to many of the libraries in Micronesia and throughout the region, and sends gifts of materials each year.

Peacock says, "These librarians face huge obstacles. Internet access in much of the Pacific is slow and expensive. So, while we can find ways to use technology to enhance access, this is not always a feasible option for PIALA member libraries.

"Email and organizations like PIALA, which provides training to empower Micronesian librarians, are valuable developments over the past 20 years," said Peacock. "They provide a sense of community to people who are physically quite isolated. Email has facilitated and increased teamwork, communication, and cooperation on everything from patrons‘ reference questions to applying for grants."

This sense of cooperation and teamwork is reflected in the carved wooden storyboard presented to Peacock by Tina Rehuher, director of the Belau National Museum. The carving is of a two-headed eel, representing an ancient Palauan tale on the importance of teamwork and cooperation.

"My father has, of course, been an example of dedication, integrity and scholarship for me. What distinguished him, though, is that more than anything, my father cares about people, and has always put them first. I‘ve carried on this approach, and incorporated it into every facet of my work.

"Thirty years ago, I hoped that I would someday work with scholars who came from the Pacific Islands. When I began my career, there were very few Pacific Islanders in academic careers," Peacock said. "Today, there are many young scholars from throughout Micronesia and the entire region that come into the Pacific Collection every day to find the resources that make their research possible. That makes it all worthwhile for me."