VCU Libraries

Skip to content Skip to footer Top

VCU Libraries is online and in person. VCU Libraries COVID-19 response

Tompkins-McCaw Library and Cabell Library are open. Find out what to expect when you visit. FAQ

Dean and VCU University Librarian named Academic Librarian of the Year

January 22, 2020 John Ulmschneider standing at a podium in front of a screen. [View Image]

John E. Ulmschneider, dean of libraries and university librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University, is the 2020 Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Academic/Research Librarian of the Year.

One of the most distinguished honors in the academic library profession, the award recognizes an outstanding member of the library profession who has made significant national or international contributions to academic/research librarianship and library development. The award will be presented to Ulmschneider in June at the American Library Association annual meeting in Chicago.

“John E. Ulmschneider’s extraordinary achievements as dean of libraries and university librarian at the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries led the committee to name him as 2020 Academic/Research Librarian of the Year,” said Jeannette E. Pierce, chair of the ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award Committee and associate university librarian for research, access, and instructional services at the University of Missouri Libraries. 

“I don’t have words adequate to express my gratitude to all of my extraordinary colleagues over the years who have made this recognition possible,” Ulmschneider said. “To be included among librarianship’s most accomplished leaders with this award, including my mentor, the late Susan Nutter, is deeply moving. I have dedicated my career to building institutional cultures that allow every person to flourish and all of us to rise to our best selves, and to develop and resource libraries that foster the success of our students and faculty and enrich our diverse communities. I am gratified that ACRL and my colleagues have recognized the importance of this work through this award.”

According to the nomination package prepared by the VCU associate university librarians, in his 20 years at VCU, John Ulmschneider has developed and transformed the VCU Libraries and its programs into an exemplary and dynamic organization. He will retire in June 2020 after more than three decades in academic libraries, which makes this a particularly timely recognition. His retirement announcement has led many colleagues at VCU and beyond to reflect on his numerous accomplishments. 

VCU Libraries achieves national prominence

Some of his most significant achievements at VCU Libraries reflect the overall impact of his many years of service at the university, including: leading the libraries to successfully achieve membership in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in 2018; the recognition of VCU Libraries with the ACRL 2018 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award; and receiving the highly competitive Library Landmark award for the renewed Cabell Library following construction in 2016. 

Ulmschneider’s vibrant leadership at VCU Libraries has resulted in numerous other accomplishments that have transformed the scholarship, learning, creative endeavors and clinical care at VCU. Among his accomplishments are:

Impact at the state level saves taxpayers and students money

Beyond these many contributions to the VCU and Richmond community, Ulmschneider has had a significant, lasting impact in regional library circles. Notable contributions have been through his work with the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) and the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA). 

Within VIVA, Ulmschneider has chaired the Advocacy Task Force for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Library Advisory Committee (LAC) to the Virginia General Assembly since 2000. Funding for VIVA has grown from under $8 million in the 2002-2004 budget period to $18 million in the 2018-2020 budget period. His advocacy for the General Assembly to invest in open educational resources and affordable course content led to a permanent increase of $600,000 in the VIVA budget for the 2018-2020 budget cycle to support this initiative. His successful advocacy has benefitted the 39 state-assisted colleges and universities (six doctoral universities, nine 4-year institutions, and 24 community and 2-year branch colleges), the 32 independent (private, nonprofit) institutions, and the Library of Virginia. Currently, Ulmschneider is a leading voice within the Virginia Research Libraries (VRL) efforts to re-examine and develop a sustainable model to support continuing resources. 

In conclusion, the nominating committee noted that “John Ulmschneider has been tremendously successful in developing a library system that is a model for others. He has created and fostered an environment that attracts outstanding library faculty and staff and supports the investment of their time and talents to advance the Libraries, the University, and the profession. He has created a culture of inclusion and innovation that make him worthy of receiving the ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year Award.”  < Previous | Next >

View graphic version