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University Chief Librarian Larry Alford Honoured with CARL Award for Distinguished Service to Research Librarianship

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) honoured Larry Alford with the CARL Award for Distinguished Service to Research Librarianship during its Annual General Meeting. This award, which is generously sponsored by ProQuest, is conferred annually to a Canadian individual who has served the profession with marked distinction and has made significant national and international contributions to research librarianship through their leadership and engagement.

As University Chief Librarian at the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL) Mr. Alford introduced the Chief Librarian’s Innovation Awards, championing initiatives related to linked data, digital preservation, entrepreneurship, research data management, digital scholarship, scholarly communications, and new approaches to public service and outreach. He also invested in capital projects to improve the student experience through the revitalization of library spaces, including the 1,200 seat Robarts Common addition. 

“Larry leads the University of Toronto Libraries with skill, balancing tradition with innovation and transformation, leveraging an approach of evolution rather than revolution. He is a leader that encourages risk taking, developing a culture of innovation and creativity.” – Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

Mr. Alford also acted as a mentor in the ARL Leadership Fellows Program, the Northern Exposure to Leadership Initiative (NELI), and the UCLA Library Senior Fellows Program, of which he is a graduate. He championed the Toronto Academic Library interns (TALInt) program, in partnership with the University of Toronto iSchool, and is working to diversify the profession by reserving some TALint positions for Black and Indigenous students. 

“His strong work ethic and ingrained sense of service have made him a respected colleague whose council is frequently sought by peers. He is a tireless advocate and enthusiast for research libraries, holding a deep sense of purpose and belief that our work has inherent value and importance, that research libraries underpin academic pursuit and knowledge creation, and that it is our continued objective to meet the current needs of faculty and students while keeping a steady eye on the future.” –  Julie Hannaford, Deputy Chief Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries.

He has made substantive contributions through his service and leadership on boards and committees within CARL, CRKN, OCUL, OCLC and Canadiana.org, and served as President of ARL. He has also been an invited speaker at numerous local, national, and international events.

“In his five years serving on the Board of CRKN, Larry brought the perspective of Canada’s largest academic research library to all deliberations while never losing sight of the mission to serve all CRKN member institutions. Recognizing the changing nature of research libraries, Larry has been a champion of bold approaches grounded in realistic and sustainable delivery within the CRKN community.” – Clare Appavoo, Executive Director, Canadian Research Knowledge Network.

Mr. Alford also played a key role in creating the Keep@Downsview shared print partnership, the first repository-based shared print program in Canadadeli and collaborated with LAC on the designation of the Marshall McLuhan Archives as one of UNESCO’s six Memory of the World Collections in Canada.

Mr. Alford is the recipient of the 2018 American Library Association’s Hugh Atkinson Memorial Award and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Information and Library Science and SILS Alumni Association at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was also elected as a Senior Fellow of Massey College of the University of Toronto in 2012.

CARL would like to congratulate Mr. Alford on his receipt of this award and would like to thank ProQuest for their generous ongoing support to the CARL Award.