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In 2017, the Santa Clara University Library was recognized as the top university library in the country with the Excellence in Academic Libraries Award. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO sponsor the award, which honors the staff of academic libraries for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further their institution's educational mission.

Having our transformation recognized through this award by ACRL is deeply meaningful. University Librarian Jennifer Nutefall remarked, “It is through our amazing staff that we truly live the Library's vision to be a vibrant and vital center for learning, inspiring both intellectual pursuits and community engagement.”

The Library’s application focused on reflection, engagement, and transformation. These three themes capture the process of change the library underwent to gather input, envision new spaces and services, and to deepen community engagement. Beginning in 2013, Library staff gathered recommendations on a redesign to improve service and efficiency, and to meet students’ changing needs. This effort led to a large-scale space assessment of the Learning Commons building, resulting in new approaches to instructional areas, expansion of study spaces, and refurbishing worn-out furniture.

Physical changes included the creation of additional public seating on the first floor and re-envisioned classroom space to afford greater active learning approaches. Staff responsibilities and position descriptions were also updated and key positions were reallocated. A personal librarian program was developed for international and transfer students to establish one-on-one relationships with librarians for personalized research assistance.

Additionally, the Library now leads annual course design workshops for faculty and works with faculty to integrate materials from Archives & Special Collections into the curriculum.

“The committee was impressed by Santa Clara University Library’s intentional, user-centered, and data-driven approach to their services, collections, and spaces,” said Karen A. Williams, chair of the 2017 Excellence in Academic Libraries Committee. “The library staff actively gather information from students and faculty to drive changes, whether it is through committee participation, focus groups, advisory boards, or surveys.”

Nutefall accepted the award, which included a trophy and a $3,000 check, at an on-site ceremony featuring ACRL President Irene Herold. We are proud to have our work recognized in this way, and continue to implement dynamic services and collections to support evolving student and faculty needs.