UVa Library Press Releases 1998 - 1999
UNIVERSITY CONFERS ITS HIGHEST HONOR ON KENDON STUBBS, UNIVERSITY LIBRARY INNOVATOR
|President John Casteen presents Thomas Jefferson award to Kendon
Stubbs, Deputy University Librarian
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Contact: Deputy University Librarian Kendon Stubbs at (804) 924-0501 or e-mail: email@example.com
October 30, 1998 - Kendon L. Stubbs, who has spent a 33-year career at the University of Virginia helping to shape the library of tomorrow, today became the 45th recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award, the University's highest honor.
Given since 1955, the award honors an individual who exemplifies in character, work and influence the principles and ideals of the University's founder.
"The field of knowledge is the common property of mankind," Jefferson wrote to Henry Dearborn in 1807, and any discoveries we make in it will be for the benefit of yours and every other nation, as well as our own.
Stubbs' innovation in making the University Library's vast resources more accessible to the University community -- and to scholars worldwide, via the Internet -- makes his recognition particularly appropriate, as it combines Jefferson's fascination with new inventions with his belief in the dissemination of knowledge as being essential to a democratic society, wrote University Librarian Karin Wittenborg in her letter of nomination.
With a desk, a computer and a staff of one graduate student, Stubbs launched the Electronic Text Center in the Humanities in 1992. Its mission was to build and maintain an Internet-accessible collection of texts and images -- and later sounds and videos -- while also building a community adept at the creation and use of those materials.
"While many other librarians were concentrating on the electronic delivery of the bibliographic record, Kendon understood that what users really wanted was content -- that is, text, images, data, sound, etc.," Wittenborg wrote.
Today, the E-Text Center at the University of Virginia, which has spun off five additional digital centers, is recognized as a model for other research libraries. Its resources are accessed a million times per month, with some 20 percent of the volume originating from outside the U.S.
"The Virginia E-Text Center quickly became and remains the national standard for such enterprises, and it is Kendon's vision and steadiness that have made it so," said James J. O'Donnell, vice provost for information services and computing and a professor of classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Among those who have had the greatest influence on the research library environment, he stands at the top of the list," said Kent Hendrickson, associate vice chancellor for information services at the University of Nebraska.
Stubbs' effort in launching the E-Text Center is but one example of his innovations, which typically occur behind the scenes and have been largely unheralded. "Few at the University are aware of what he contributes to the educational process at the University," Wittenborg wrote, "and how important his influence has been on the lives of students and faculty."
The common thread has been service. Stubbs introduced the Library Express On-grounds (LEO) service, which delivers books and articles directly to faculty members' offices. He is recognized as an authority on the use of user surveys to improve library services. He initiated a change in the library's exhibition policy, then co-curated a successful exhibition "The Most of Special Collections" which displayed unusual and rarely seen items from the library's Special Collections, both in the McGregor Rare Book Reading Room and on the Internet.
Stubbs' experience in launching the E-Text Center later prompted him to participate in the founding of the University's Institute for the Advancement of Technology in the Humanities, which encourages faculty members to utilize information technology in research and teaching. He also supported the proposal for what would become the Timothy B. and Lisa Nelson Robertson Media Center in support of a Modern Media Studies program; the center will open in the Spring on the third floor of Clemons library.
Stubbs' contributions were instrumental in the University's having received a $450,000 Mellon grant to digitize rare books in the Clifton Waller Barrett Library in American Literature, which in turn led to a partnership with a British publisher to market digital versions and provide revenue to reinvest in future digital projects. Thanks to Stubbs,' support U.Va. is also a key player in IBM's Digital Library initiative, for which it recently received $1 million in digitizing services.
He is also strong in the library fundamentals, having overseen the growth of the collections of the University Library system -- Alderman Library and nine branches -- from 1 million to more than 4.5 million volumes during his tenure.
Stubbs arrived at the University as a graduate student in the early 1960s, earning an M.A. in English in 1964. In 1965, as a senior assistant in the Manuscripts Division, he began a career that would touch virtually every facet of the University Library. He went on to work in the Reference and Acquisitions divisions as director of reference services from 1966 to 1976, was promoted to associate university librarian in 1976, and was acting university librarian during the search that led to Wittenborg's hiring in 1993.
"Kendon is surely among the library elite," she wrote. "His vision, leadership and service are unparalleled in research libraries, and the University has benefitted from a lifetime of service from this original and multi-talented individual."
"While I have been in more famous and richer libraries, I have never known one that ran better, or that operated with a clearer understanding of its mission to serve its clients -- students and scholars of all levels and ages," said U.Va. English professor Jerome McGann. "Kendon has been the quiet and unseen genius presiding over these operations."
Stubbs, 60, is married and has three children. Outside of his work at the University, he shares yet another interest of Thomas Jefferson's: that of horticulture. He is recognized as an authority on the cultivation of rhododendrons.
Stubbs is the first librarian to receive the Jefferson Award since the late Harry Clemons in 1956. Last year's recipient was Dr. B. Lewis Barnett Jr., who was recognized for his lifelong practice and advancement of family medicine at the University.
Photo Credit: Hoke Perkins