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SLIS Alumnus Earns Prestigious Award for Work on Cleveland Memory Project

Posted Sep. 14, 2012

School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) alumnus Bill Barrow received the 2012 Herrick Memorial Award from the Early Settlers’ Association of the Western Reserve for his work as the Cleveland Memory Project’s co-founder, team leader and public spokesperson.

Barrow, M.L.S. ’98, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Cleveland State University, along with one master’s degree from Kent State in library science and another from Cleveland State University in history. Currently, Barrow is the Special Collections Librarian for the Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University. He also serves as chair of the library’s committee on the Cleveland Memory Project on the region’s history.

According to the Michael Schwartz Library website, “Cleveland Memory is a highly collaborative collection of historical resources offered freely on the Web. Built since 2002 by the efforts of library school practicum students, dedicated volunteers and the staff of area libraries, historical societies and governmental agencies, who are trained and supported by the library's professional staff, Cleveland Memory is both a terrific window in the Northeast Ohio community's history and a way for its citizens to participate in its construction. It is regionalism in action for our local citizens and a way for far-flung Clevelanders everywhere to stay connected with their hometown.”

“Recognizing that collaboration is increasingly the way big projects get done, we decided to provide the software platform and training here at CSU and invite others to help build Cleveland Memory with us, as a regional partnership,” said Barrow. “I had been doing something on-line with local history when we decided to expand the whole thing in 2002. I took on the responsibility for coordinating the projects, given that the source of most of the materials is from my Special Collections area. A good share of the projects is being done by nearly 70 practicum students, chiefly from the library school there at KSU.”

The faculty at SLIS has been very supportive of the Cleveland Memory’s practicum projects and recommends students seeking a practicum in digital science librarianship, said Barrow. It has been hosting students for 13 years. SLIS recognized this relationship by designating Barrow a Friend of the Year in 2007.

“My student worked with Bill and had an outstanding experience,” said Catherine Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science. “Her project involved work with another Cleveland- area arts organization. Bill provided guidance, and importantly, he introduced the student to experts in her subject area. It was a truly collaborative effort. Bill has a creative approach, and he is a strong supporter of our students.”

“I think those who choose the practicum option may have some extra motivation to begin with, but I've been very pleased with the students and their faculty advisors in the course of these many, many successful practicums,” Barrow said. “If you looked at our ‘Browse Web Exhibits’ listing in Cleveland Memory, you'd see many were done as practicum projects by Kent students, so this has been a mutually-beneficial relationship.”

Barrow said he is incredibly honored to receive the 2012 Herrick Memorial Award and gratified that Cleveland Memory is being recognized.

“We shared the first ever award from the Ohio Historic Records Advisory Board in 2010,” he said. “Just this past May the Society of Ohio Archivists gave us one of their 2012 Merit Awards, so the Early Settlers are the third such award we've received. They've been around for over a century and have given their awards to some pretty distinguished folks, so we were particularly honored to receive that award.”

By Nicole Gennarelli