Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award

Established in 1990. Each year at the ASEE Annual Conference, the Engineering Libraries Division presents an award that recognizes work that contributes to the advancement and development of excellence in engineering libraries.

Homer I. Bernhardt was, from 1966 until his untimely death in 1982, head of the Bevier Engineering Library at the University of Pittsburgh. Homer Bernhardt’s professional activities contributed to engineering and librarianship at Pitt and at ASEE. His commitment to the field is recognized in ELD’s decision to name its Distinguished Service Award in his memory. Read the complete history of the Bernhardt Award.


Membership in ASEE is not an eligibility requirement for this award.

How to Nominate

Award nominations must include the name, title, and contact information of the nominee and nominator, nomination rationale statement, and a curriculum vitae of the nominee. The rationale statement should not exceed 700 words and should clearly indicate why the candidate is being nominated for this award. Letters of support from individuals besides the person making the nomination may be included.


Nominations, along with all required materials, must be received by February 8th by the ASEE/ELD Awards Committee chair.


2023: Kari Kozak

Kari Kozak of the University of Iowa. As the nominating letter stated, “Kari’s contributions [to ELD] would dwarf what most…members strive for.” This announcement, therefore, will only be able to cover a sampling of Ms. Kozak’s achievements and contributions, but be assured, it goes well beyond what follows. Another letter detailed the seventeen (17!) intellectual contributions Kari has made to ASEE annual conferences in the past ten years. These include papers, posters, lightning talks, and moderating sessions. She also won the Best Poster Award in 2019 for her poster, “The Great Coffee Hunt: An Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunt.” Beyond intellectual contributions, Kari has been a dedicated leader in the division, recently wrapping up the four-year officer track (secretary/treasurer, program chair, division chair, past chair/nominating committee chair). If that doesn’t paint the picture for you of her commitment and enthusiasm, just take last year at the ASEE 2022 Annual Conference in Minneapolis where Ms. Kozak “was division chair, she presented a paper at a technical session, presented a lightning talk, moderated a session, and led the annual business meeting. All in one conference!”

However, as one letter pointed out, the “Bernhardt award criteria aren’t focused solely on contributions to ASEE/ELD” and “Kari’s contributions to engineering librarianship go well beyond her ELD-related work.” Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Ms. Kozak has had a tremendous impact as a librarian at the University of Iowa and beyond. She has been the Director of the Lichtenberg Engineering Library since 2012. In addition, she has been a leader in TRAIL (Technical Report Archive and Library), STELLA (Science, Technology, and Engineering Library Leaders in Action), and Atmospheric Science Librarians International. Multiple letters of support from University of Iowa faculty members were provided as part of the nomination package. They touch upon her teaching, as well as her commitment to innovative spaces and programs for engineering students. To name a few, she created the Engineering Tools Library, the Creative Space Room, and the Kick-Start Fund. Her letters of support from colleagues at Iowa use words and phrases like “amazed,” “blown away,” “devoted,” and “an invaluable resource,” to name a few. The Committee agrees wholeheartedly with these descriptions of Kari and her work. Kari, as the nominating letter concludes, is truly “an exceptional and outstanding librarian.” Many sincere thanks to Kari for her contributions to engineering librarianship and service to ELD!

2022: No Nominations Received

2021: Tom Volkening 

Tom Volkening of Michigan State University (MSU). As his nomination letter said, Tom has had “tremendous impact” on engineering librarianship and engineering education. Tom has been an ELD member for 35 years and a librarian for 43 years. He has served as a Director for ELD (1998-1999), Chair of the Liaisons Program Committee (2006-2007), and a member of many other committees, including the ELD 50th and 75th Anniversary Task Forces, the Mentoring Working Group (2000-present), and the Scholarly Communications Committee (2005-present).  In addition, he has presented a “dozen times from a 1997 presentation on intellectual property to a 2020 panel session on research metrics (with many more in between).”

Tom has been extremely active in helping ELD to produce position documents, including one of the earliest such documents, the Punch List of Best Practices for Electronic Resources. Tom also contributed to the “ELD Guide to ABET Accreditation” in 2010. As one nominator stated, “Tom arguable has the most ABET experience of any currently active ELD member, having gone through the accreditation process six times.”

Mentoring is clearly a passion of Tom’s, serving as a mentor in ELD and beyond. As many of his letters point out, Tom is always willing to lend an ear and share from his own vast experience in the form of a conversation, an email, a presentation, a workshop, mentoring, and more. As another letter magnificently stated:

“Tom brings a great wealth of experience to engineering librarianship, encompassing collection curation, resource acquisition, marketing of services, and instruction, all in the service of helping undergraduate and graduate students and their faculty to access and use information with proficiency.”

Perhaps it is this quote that best sums up why Tom is a deserving recipient of this year’s award, “[he] is professional, consistent, reliable, and most importantly: he cares. He cares about serving his community in the best possible ways and he takes initiative to do so.” Many thanks to Tom for his many contributions to ELD, to his institution, and, more broadly, to engineering librarianship.


2020: Craig Beard 

Craig W. Beard of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As his nomination letter said, “Craig’s record of service to ELD over a 19-year period is arguably unmatched.” He has served in ELD through the officer track (secretary/treasurer, program chair, chair, nominating committee chair) as well as many ELD committees including the Publications Committee (13 years with 10 years as committee Chair), the Literature Guides Subcommittee, the Union List Subcommittee, the Awards Committee (9 years), the Program Planning Committee (10 years), and the Development Committee (2 years), and ELD listserv co-moderator (16+ years).

One nomination letter dug even deeper into Craig’s ELD service years, stating:

“Looking at Craig’s total service to ELD is where the numbers get downright spooky. If one counts a single year of service on an ELD committee as one ‘committee year’ of service (NOT double counting when Craig was both a member of AND Chair of Publications), then in the 19 years Craig has been an ELD member he has amassed 74 ‘committee years’ of service, an average of nearly 3.9 committee years of service per year across all 19 years.”

However, Craig’s service to ELD goes far beyond numbers. As one nomination letter stated “Craig’s service is not just about the number of years and variety of committees, which is significant, but also by the ability to make contributions with broad impact that help the entire division.” It is clear from the letters of support that Craig is known by many as being warm, continually optimistic, cheerful, and dedicated. He has never hesitated to offer his support and mentorship to current and new members of ELD. Perhaps it is this quote that best sums up why Craig is a deserving recipient of this year’s award, “the man never stops serving.” Many thanks to Craig for his many contributions to ELD!



2019: Jill Powell

Jill Powell of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. As her nomination letter said, “I have been continuously impressed by Jill’s knowledge, professionalism, generosity, and dedication to engineering libraries. She is a terrific role model and mentor for librarians of all ages and years of experience.” Jill has been an active and engaged member of the engineering library community for more than thirty years. During that time Jill has served in ELD through the officer track (secretary/treasurer, program chair, chair, nominating committee chair) and was the division’s webmaster, a role which she originated in 1997. In addition to leadership roles, Jill has “moderated many technical sessions, participate on a number of panels, and delivered numerous lighting talks, papers and workshops at ASEE conferences.” Outside of ELD, Jill has been active with the St. Lawrence Section of ASEE and the Upstate New York Science Librarians Group and has helped organize meetings of both groups at Cornell.

Jill is seen as always warm, welcoming, and willing to share her experience with other engineering librarians. It’s clear from her support letters and Jill has a similar attitude at Cornell; one letter praises her “openness and approachability makers her a perfect interface for the library with students”, and another shares that she is “always looking for ways to improve the effectiveness with which she shares her wealth of knowledge on how to search the technical literature and find information”.

Jill is an example to all of us in outreach and helping our constituents, and in leading by example as a mentor to new librarians and sharing her experience and expertise to ensure the good of the profession and ELD. Many thanks to Jill for her contributions and positive impact on engineering librarianship.


2018: Alice Trussell

Alice Trussell of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.  As her nomination letter said, “she is an accomplished librarian and exemplary role model for current engineering librarians.” Alice has served as a research librarian and liaison to science, engineering, and geology during her career, including from 2001-2015 as the Director of the Fielder Engineering Library at KSU. Alice has been an active participant in engineering librarianship within ASEE and beyond, including committee involvement with IATUL and TRAIL, while maintaining regular activity publishing and presenting. Alice has served the Engineering Libraries Division for many years in a variety of ways. She has moderated sessions from the Get Acquainted session during the time before our lightning talks format, risen to the challenge of the professional issues wrap-up session, which also had no predetermined format, and multiple technical sessions over the years. Most current ELD members will know Alice as the chair of the Awards committee, a role she held from 2007 – 2017. Now that she is not a member of the Awards committee, we can celebrate “Her dedicated work ethic, collaborative experiences, and deep level of involvement on all levels of the professional librarian’s spectrum – local, state, national, international – she is an inspiration to all of us.” Many thanks to Alice for her many years of dedicated service and positive impact on Engineering Librarianship!



2017: Michael White


Michael White of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario Canada. As his nomination letter said, “Mike’s long career as a consummate professional, his commitment to improving the knowledge of the profession of the whole, particularly in the area of patent information use and instruction, and his outstanding service to ASEE Engineering Libraries Division more than merit this award. Mike has served as a research librarian and liaison to Astronomy, Chemical Engineering Chemistry, Engineering Physics, Physics, and serves as the Patent librarian at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario since 2005. In addition to his leadership in the profession, he is one of the Division’s most active scholars.” Mike has served the Engineering Libraries Division in many capacities. He has served as director, secretary/treasurer, program chair, chair, and past chair. He has worked on or chaired many committees including the Visioning Task Force and the Anniversary Task Force. His “History of the Engineering Library Division” paper is extensive and will be invaluable to those studying the division in the future. Many thanks to Michael for his many contributions and positive impact on Engineering Librarianship!



2016: Megan Sapp-Nelson

Megan Sapp Nelson is an Associate Professor of Library Sciences and Engineering Librarian at Purdue University. The nomination letter stated, “Megan has greatly impressed me with her poise and skilled leadership since she joined ELD and gone through the gauntlet of all the ELD officer positions. Her vita shows she has already won a number of awards, including Best ELD paper (2012 and 2008) and ALA Top Twenty Library Instruction article (2011 and 2013). She is an experienced and effective instructor who is well integrated into several courses. She has numerous publications including articles, book chapters, presentations and posters. She has been a co-investigator and co-PI on research projects with several collaborators. Most recently she has been selected as one of two ACRL curriculum designers for a new spring 2016 Research Data Management course.”

“For those who have worked with her within the ELD leadership, Megan has lead ELD through controversies with aplomb. During conference registration rate hikes and proposed taxing of division funds, she remained positive and upbeat, providing clear communication from both ELD to ASEE and vice versa, insuring that ELD members were listened to and well-informed throughout discussions. She always presented an intelligent and reasoned approach in her advocacy for ELD within the larger ASEE community.” A letter of support stated, “Megan has been a star in engineering librarianship, providing innovation, engagement, leadership and scholarly contributions to share her expertise with others in the community. As an accomplished instructor and award-winning researcher, I heartily endorse her nomination for the Homer I Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award.”
Due to the very generous support of ASTM, Megan will receive a stipend of $1000.00 in addition to the plaque commemorating the award.

2015: No Nominations Received

2014: Amy Van Epps

Amy Van Epps is an Associate Professor of Library Sciences and Engineering Librarian at Purdue University. The nomination letter stated “I strongly believe her numerous and ongoing contributions over the years since she joined in 1995 lead to this honor. Her academic work and professional service are so woven into the fabric of our division that it is hard to picture the group functioning without this phenomenal librarian. I was so impressed when reviewing her portfolio that I feel remiss in not nominating her years ago.” One of Amy’s colleagues at Purdue stated “Amy’s enthusiasm extends to her work within the Libraries at Purdue. She joined the PhD program in engineering education about five years ago, and she wasn’t shy about sharing her library expertise in the classroom, developing an entire cohort of engineering education students (and future faculty members) with an enhanced understanding of information literacy skills and the importance of passing those on to their students. She was the go-to person for her entire class when research projects were assigned, with lines of students snaking out her office requesting help on how to find relevant information.”

A colleague within ASEE ELD commented “Amy is a consummate mentor without the word every being mentioned. My personal experience as a brand new engineering librarian over a decade ago was enriched immeasurably by the many interactions I’ve had with her, both at ASEE conferences as well as by telephone when I would call her for expertise and advice. She always graciously accommodated my lack of knowledge, and was willing to be quizzed about collections and processes as well as share her prodigious institutional memory. …She does this with equanimity, grace, energy, passion, and a wonderful sense of humor.”

Due to the very generous support of ASTM, Amy will receive a stipend of $1000.00 in addition to the plaque commemorating the award.


2013: Paige Gibbs

Paige Gibbs receiving Bernhardt Award with George Zajdel, ASTM International
Paige Gibbs receiving award with George Zajdel, ASTM International, Homer Bernhardt Award sponsor, 2013

Paige Gibbs is a Reference Librarian at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. As a nomination letter stated “The Homer Bernhardt award is, in essence a ‘Hall of Fame’ award, and it is often granted to members who have had long and active professional careers that have included distinguished service to the association in all spheres that has contributed to its success overall. In the course of her twenty-nine years as a member of ELD, Paige has served in almost every possible capacity. After serving as Division Chair (1992-93); Program Chair (1991-1992); and Secretary/Treasurer (1989-1991), she has remained on the extended executive committee continually where her comments are well chosen and her opinions well respected. She has served as chair of the awards committee, member of the Publications Committee, Archivist, and co-Archivist. I believe her ongoing contributions over the years since she joined in 1982 have been key to nurturing the group where networking, friendship, and the exchange of ideas flourish. Paige exemplifies the energy, dedication, and enthusiasm of an engineering librarian. She is an excellent role model for outreach and participation. Hence I nominate her for the Homer I. Bernhardt award.”
Due to the very generous support of ASTM, Paige will receive a stipend of $1000.00 in addition to the plaque commemorating her award.


2012: Maliaca Oxnam

The University of Arizona’s Maliaca Oxnam began leading the TRAIL project, the Technical Reports Archive and Image Library, in 2006. She came up with the idea, designed the product, and designed the multiple and complex processes that proved to successfully implement the product. She has won two awards for her work on TRAIL, the CIS/ALA/GODORT “Documents to the People” Award and The University of Arizona Outstanding University Achievement Award in 2010. However, TRAIL is not Maliaca’s only achievement. She has served the Science and Technology Section of ACRL in various capacities, including Section Chair, and recently worked with IEEE to secure $3000 in annual funding for the new STS Innovation in Science and Technology Librarianship Award. AlA selected her in 2010 to participate in the ALA Emerging Leaders program.

2011: Dorothy Byers

Dorothy Byers, Engineering Librarian Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati, serves currently as Head, Abu Dhabi Campus Library at Kalifa University. Dorothy has a long and rich history of contributions to ELD and to engineering librarianship. Her work to get ABET to accept a greatly modified questionnaire for engineering libraries was a significant accomplishment in the never ending quest to enable others to more fully understand the progressive, real work of engineering libraries. Numerous letters of support testified not only of her official service to ELD, but to her ability to make newcomers feel warmly welcomed to the fold.

2010: Jay Bhatt

Jay Bhatt of is the Engineering Librarian at Drexel University. As highlighted and summarized by the nomination letter, “The purpose of ELD is to bring together engineering librarians across the country to collaborate, network, and share skills. The Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award ‘recognizes work that contributes to the advancement and development of excellence in engineering libraries.’ I believe his record in reaching out to many constituencies, promotion of information literacy, authoring original papers, collaborations on presentations, mentoring others, and technical work attest to his advancement and development of excellence in engineering libraries. I enthusiastically nominate him for this award based on this and his record of contributions and service to ASEE, ELD, his colleagues throughout the world, the many engineering students he has taught, and the engineering library profession as a whole.” Numerous letters of support outlined the outreach and effectiveness of Jay’s efforts.

2009: Not awarded.

2008: Larry Thompson

Larry Thompson is an Associate Professor and Engineering Librarian at Virginia Tech. [Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University] in Blacksburg, VA. As highlighted and summarized by the nomination letter, “I’m nominating Larry because of his continuing strong service to the ELD division, engineering librarianship, and his wide-ranging contributions to his colleagues. He has been not only active as an executive officer (secretary/treasurer, program chair, and division chair), but he has remained extremely productive since his executive office service. He chairs the JSTOR committee and reports regularly to ELD regarding its achievements, investigates digital rights management issues with SAE, reported thoroughly into whether to retain NASA STAR publications, serves actively on the development committee (which he founded), and enthusiastically mentors new ELD officers. He is excellent at gathering information from the division, researching further, talking diplomatically to vendors and publishers, and reporting back. Because we are all busy with our own responsibilities, this continued diligence is rare and valuable. He follows up without fail to help his colleagues.”

2007: John M. Saylor

John M. Saylor is the Director of the Engineering Library, Cornell University and Interim Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Communications and Collections, Cornell University Library. The committee cited as determining factors John’s: over thirty-five years of leadership in engineering librarianship; pioneering work in advancing the cause of digital libraries and open access initiatives; record of presentation, collaboration, and publishing; professionalism and mentoring of numerous engineering librarians; and significant contributions to ELD, including ELDnet-L, Director, and Chair of the J-stor Task Force. John’s efforts on these projects [Synthesis and NEEDS (1990-1995), ICE (1992-1997), NDSL (2002-2006), KMODDL (2002-2004), et al.] demonstrate the forward thinking, leadership, and service that he has brought to engineering librarianship for decades.

2006: Linda Musser

Linda Musser was awarded the Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service for outstanding efforts that contribute to the advancement and development of excellence in engineering libraries. Letters of support explained that “In her career, Linda has taken the brave path – choosing to stay where we as a profession so desperately need colleagues and friends – in middle management. She is an outstanding individual who evokes admiration and respect” and “Linda is not just active at the ASEE annual meeting; she is an inspiration–a role model to me with her positive outlook and cheerful support of others. It is her openness, approachability, positive attitude, and mentoring skills that have made me a fan. Her support of members outside the meeting rooms endears her, and this supportive collegiality may be her greatest contribution to our profession.”

2005: Karen Andrews

The Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award was presented to Karen Andrews for her strong professional service, assistance to colleagues, energy for management and committee work, her wisdom, her inquisitive mind, and her sense of humor. Two letters of support included personal testimonials of how Karen emulates the standards for which he [Homer] was known: “For those of us who remember Homer, we think about the wry sense of humor and keen wit coupled with a strong professional dedication to information service and to helping his colleagues learn and grow.”

The committee cited as determining factors Karen’s professional perspective; philosophy of leadership; recruitment and mentoring of new engineering librarians; work with scholarly communication and publishing; and extraordinary service to ELD. “Karen’s career embodies the best of librarianship: energy for carrying out difficult management and committee tasks; wisdom for knowing how to accomplish work and develop the best in others; and an inquisitive mind that searches for new solutions and recognizes the need to be a constant learner even while leading.” “Karen fosters and encourages an atmosphere of creativity, support, and an expectation that library staff will excel. She leads with a sense of purpose and, when necessary, a sense of humor.”

2004: Mel DeSart

Mel DeSart is Head of the Engineering Library at the University of Washington. Mel’s substantial achievements in the profession: the establishment of the ELDNET-L listserv, recruitment and mentoring of new engineering librarians, leadership in areas of scholarly communication, and significant contributions to ELD have made him a leader, trusted colleague, and a creative force in the community of engineering librarians. He has raised the visibility and professional status of engineering librarians by his own modeling of exceptional competence, enthusiasm, and unselfish contributions to the profession. Mel’s nomination received over a dozen letters of support from colleagues, faculty, vendors, and consortia representatives. One quote best summarizes those letters and the committee’s decision, “Mel’s dedication, his commitment and devotion to the profession, and his vitality are simply phenomenal.”

2003: Christy Hightower

Christy Hightower, University of California, Santa Cruz, has been an active member of the engineering librarian community for over 15 years and has distinguished herself through her service to ELD, her contributions to the literature, and her support of her profession and her colleagues. She has served in the past as ELD Director and currently promotes collaboration among science and technology librarians by directing ELD’s liaison program. Beyond her service to ELD, Christy’s achievements in the profession–as a leader in developing web usability, her pioneering work in federated searching, and as an influential evaluator of electronic resources–have made her an asset to Engineering Librarianship.

2002: Orion Pozo

Orion is the Collection Manager for Engineering at North Carolina State University. He has been an active member of ASEE/ELD for many years. He has participated at a number of ASEE Annual Conferences as an attendee, moderator, and presenter. In 2000 he presented on NCSU’s experiences with E-Books, which was one of the most successful sessions at that conference. Orion, as a public service librarian, organized the first ever meeting of North Carolina university engineering librarians. The meeting was extremely successful and would never have happened without his efforts. Orion, as a technical services librarian, created and has coordinated ELD’s Duplicates Exchange program for the last 10 years. This internet based project serves over 100 North American academic engineering libraries. Another nominator commented that Orion “answers the questions that many of us want to ask but haven’t the time to investigate. Trust me, you don’t know how ‘deep’ a meeting can be until you have heard Orion provide all the circulation data for every journal in every Triangle Library for the last 10 years – all from the top of his head!”

2001: William Mischo

William H. Mischo is Head of the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. Bill’s achievements in the profession: as a leader in digital library initiatives, as a mentor beyond compare and as a well-rounded researcher and author, have made him a very visible asset to Engineering Librarianship. “To the rest of the library world, the name ‘Bill Mischo’ is synonymous with engineering librarianship; to his colleagues and friends it evokes admiration and respect.” In addition to other accomplishments, Bill was honored for having mentored many in the profession, quite a few of whom were in attendance. In addition to receiving a handsome plaque, he was asked to pose for pictures wearing a very silly hat.

2000: Tom Conkling
1999: Robert Schwarzwalder
1998: Steven Gass
1997: Not awarded.
1996: Not awarded.
1995: Clifford Lynch
1994: Not awarded.
1993: Not awarded.
1992: Maurita Holland
1991: Edwin Posey
1990: Kathy Jackson