Authors, Remember the Librarians Who Helped You
Skimming through the Sunday New York Times Book Review I found a nice shoutout to my LJ colleague Margaret Heilbrun in the back page essay by historian Amanda Foreman.
In January, the 133-year-old Library Journal announced the creation of a new annual prize: the Amanda Foreman Award for best acknowledgments. Laugh all you like; it was one of the proudest moments of my life. I knew how much effort had been expended in making those acknowledgments as comprehensive and accurate as possible; but I never thought anyone else would notice.
As a librarian who worked for years at the New York Historical Society, Margaret appreciates the extensive research that the best biographies and histories entail. And she definitely notices when authors give full credit to the librarians and archivists who assisted them.
Librarians‚ like all mortals‚ love to be on the receiving end of gratitude. When the occasional library, archives, or special collections researcher publishes the results of all that research and expresses thanks to the library in the book’s acknowledgments, and includes the names of the staff who helped, well, the staff in question are thrilled. Natch.
You know what? It doesn’t happen often.
As Margaret recounts in her delightful post “Best Acknowledgements of 2011” for LJ's In the Bookroom blog, she decided to remedy this shameful ommission and acknowledge the authors who best showed their appreciation for the librarians who helped bring their books to life. The winner of 2011? Amanda Foreman's A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War.
In this book, which is among our best of 2011, Ms. Foreman personally names and thanks over 200 library, archives, and special collections staff members from around the world who helped her and her assistants with access to materials over the course of several years. Her acknowledgments are not only a tribute to all the women and men who enabled her work, but a tribute to her for the stamina and focus to keep track of them all systematically and name them with little fuss or muss.
In honor of Foreman’s feat, Margaret created the Amanda Foreman Award to “acknowledge an acknowledger who uses the Foreman format.” She cited 2012 winner Matthew Hollis’s roll call of libraries and staffers in Now All Roads Lead to France: A Life of Edward Thomas as a “fine exemplar of Foreman tradition.”
So authors, don’t forget the librarians who helped you. Remember to give credit where credit is due. Margaret will be watching!