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The American Library Association Student Chapter (ALA-SC) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa was named the 2020–21 ALA New Members Round Table Student Chapter of the Year, out of 64 North American student chapters. The last time UH Mānoa’s ALA-SC won the award was in 2006. The chapter is part of the Library and Information Science (LIS) Program in the College of Natural Sciences.

The award recognizes the organization’s promising leaders and their outstanding contributions to the ALA, UH Mānoa’s LIS Program and the LIS profession. The chapter will be presented with a $1,000 grant for the LIS Program at the 2021 ALA Annual Conference in June 2021.

In a year overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, UH Mānoa’s ALA-SC organized outreach and professional development events, virtual study groups, and communicated the challenges of information service during this time.

“We are so humbled to be chosen,” said Stephanie Robertson, UH Mānoa ALA-SC president and LIS graduate student. “It seems that just about everyone we know has struggled with extra stress, isolation and fatigue as we get through this pandemic and our ALA-SC board mindfully sought to address those concerns in our planning this year. It was an honor enough for us to know that our UH Mānoa LIS faculty recognized those efforts through their encouragement to apply for ALA Student Chapter of the Year and to read their generous letters of recommendation in support of this award.”

“They demonstrated the kind of responsiveness, inclusivity and compassion that are at the core of professional LIS practice,” said LIS Professor and Chair Rich Gazan. “This year, the LIS Program’s primary focus has been on practicing care and staying connected, and ALA-SC has embodied that. They inspire us.”

UH Mānoa’s ALA-SC currently has 20 members and is led by Robertson, Vice President Jade Sunouchi, Secretary Phuong Nguyen, Treasurer Brianna Nakano, Designer and Webmaster Michelle Ann Carino. Their faculty advisor is Associate Professor Noriko Asato.

“They’ve done so much to raise awareness of local library issues to a national level, which opens doors for our graduates and allows them to network beyond our own professional community,” Asato said. “It really is amazing to see these students step up to demonstrate leadership, especially during this COVID-19 period when people are struggling just to get through the day.”

This recognition is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

—By Marc Arakaki

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