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ACL Award for Excellence in Innovation


Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Library in Kansas City, MO
Library Director: Dr. Matthew Milsap
Submitting Librarian: Christopher Vaughn
Staff Size: 11 (3 full-time librarians and 8 part-time support staff members)
“Library Instruction Sessions”: Innovation in Ongoing Service of Information/Technology

The inaugural 2021 Award for Excellence in Innovation is awarded to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary library staff for the creation of an online version of their library instruction sessions previously only available for in-person doctoral students. In a six-month time span, they developed an online course through Canvas LMS for all students (undergraduate, masters, doctoral) and faculty that is self-paced, with small lessons while simultaneously completing a total library renovation. The course also reaches Korean and Spanish-speaking students through translation and subtitles. Collaboration with the Online Studies department was helpful in converting their session into an easy-to-follow course. As a result, no additional time is required for their librarians to offer more in-person sessions and it has exponentially increased the number of students and faculty that can access the library instruction course.  Advantageously, the first course was launched a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the shut down of in-person classes.

  • There are 4,005 enrolled in the course with over 20,252 lessons viewed since July 2020. (Previously, only two in-person sessions were conducted with a total of 60 students in attendance.)  
  • The project directly fulfills the library’s mission of supporting the seminary’s curriculum and research projects.
  • The course will continue to be offered on Canvas LMS with a review of course contents each semester, updating lessons and videos as necessary.

Is your library doing something new and innovative? Consider sharing by completing an application. 

ACL member libraries provide a variety of innovative and new services, programs, and resources to their campus communities. The ACL Award for Excellence in Innovation seeks to recognize these member libraries who are seeking to improve library service on their campus. As ACL member libraries have varying staff sizes and serve a wide variation of populations, this award recognizes that what is innovative for one library will differ from another library and that each library is committed to serving their unique campus community. In addition, innovation may be exhibited in a wide variety of ways which may include one-time events, an annual program, or an ongoing service as examples. 
2022 DEADLINE: November 1, 2021 


Criteria to apply:
  1. A staff member of the applying library must be a current ACL member.
  2. The innovation must be something you have implemented for the first time or significantly updated in your library within the past academic year (12-18 months).
  3. Winning applicants must be willing to present their library innovation as a workshop or poster presentation at the following year’s ACL conference and/or write an article about their innovation for The Christian Librarian.
Judging Criteria:
Applications will be judged based on the innovativeness of the idea for their campus and staff size. Excellence will be based on the following factors:
  • Impact on the library
  • How the innovation helps the library to better achieve its mission
  • Impact on their campus, specifically students or faculty, or the wider community
  • Extent to which the innovation was implemented at optimum levels
  • Sustainability of the idea (if applicable)
Applications will be judged by a committee of ACL members representing various sized institutions. Judges will not be from libraries that have submitted applications.
ACL Award for Excellence in Innovation winners will be recognized with a plaque. Winning libraries are encouraged to arrange an opportunity for the plaque to be announced at a time and place where this recognition can be celebrated by their entire campus and administration. A letter to the library director and to the college or university administration will be sent from ACL. The college or university will also be included in a list on the ACL website with a brief summary of the innovation.