The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) Board of Directors is very pleased to announce that Larry P. Alford, University Chief Librarian at the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL), is the 2022 winner of the Ron MacDonald Distinguished Service Award. The award ceremony to celebrate Mr. Alford’s contributions to the Canadian library community will be held on November 1, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. EDT during CRKN’s in-person conference in Montreal.
Mr. Alford’s career in library leadership began at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he was the Deputy University Librarian. In 2005, he moved to Temple University, as their Vice Provost for Libraries and University Librarian, with the additional role of Dean of University Libraries added in 2007. He assumed the role of University Chief Librarian of the University of Toronto Libraries in 2011 and has been a vital leader in the Canadian research library community ever since. With an eye to the future, Mr. Alford has worked to build strong and resilient digital research and scholarly communications infrastructure to benefit not only his institution, but research libraries across Canada.
As a member of the CRKN Board of Directors from 2016-2020, Mr. Alford has brought his vision and dedication to CRKN, ensuring that our organization continues to meet the current and future needs of the Canadian knowledge ecosystem. Mr. Alford also directly contributed to building strong leadership for CRKN as a member of the search committee for our Executive Director in 2012. As part of the Canadiana Executive Committee from 2011-2012 and later the Board of Directors from 2013-2018, Mr. Alford was instrumental in the merger between CRKN and Canadiana. His contributions in bringing together these two organizations has helped CRKN to ensure preservation of and access to Canadian digital cultural heritage through strong research infrastructure for the benefit of all.
In addition to his leadership with CRKN, Mr. Alford has served on the board of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL), and served as the President of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). He received the 2021 CARL Award for Distinguished Service to Research Librarianship and the 2018 American Library Association’s Hugh Atkinson Memorial Award in recognition of his accomplishments.
Mr. Alford has been a leader in supporting access to knowledge, including pioneering work in establishing and growing Borealis to support open data. He has generously used UTL resources to extend access to Borealis and Ontario Library Research Cloud services, ensuring that institutions across Canada can share their benefits. With the 2020 deal between UTL and Karger Publishers, Mr. Alford also completed the first transformative open access agreement in Canada and has been a strong supporter of CRKN’s efforts to transform scholarly publishing through open access initiatives and investments in open scholarship.
“It is a tremendous honor to receive this award and be nominated by peers in the library community that I value and respect,” remarked Mr. Alford. “Libraries are continually reinventing themselves as content becomes more accessible online. We play an essential role in enhancing access and preservation, building connections and constructing knowledge, and reinforcing why research matters. It is a privilege to collaborate with colleagues at CRKN to lead change and evolve our mission as society evolves.”
Alongside all of his career accomplishments, those who have had the pleasure of working with Mr. Alford describe him as generous, enthusiastic, and empathetic. He is passionate about inspiring students, supporting faculty, mentoring staff, and collaborating with colleagues. CRKN is delighted to celebrate his vision, dedication, and service to the advancement of Canadian knowledge infrastructure with the Ron MacDonald Award.
The award will be presented to Larry Alford during CRKN’s in-person conference in Montreal on November 1, 2022, at Le Sheraton Montréal in the Foyer of Salon ABC. Staff from all CRKN member institutions are invited to attend the conference and join us to celebrate Mr. Alford’s work.
About the Award
The Ron MacDonald Distinguished Service Award was introduced by CRKN in September 2008 to honour the late Ron MacDonald who was a member of CRKN’s Negotiations Resource Team from February 2000 to July 2007 and who played a key role in establishing CRKN’s collaborative programs and services.
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