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Kozak wins Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award

Kari receiving her award. Bernhardt Award recipients get to wear a groovy hat, then add a pin from their institution and hand it on to the next awardee.

Last week we attended the annual conference of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) where Lichtenberger Engineering Library Director Kari Kozak was awarded with the Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award by the Engineering Libraries Division (ELD).

From the Association Society of Engineers – Engineering Libraries Division:

The ASEE ELD 2023 Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award goes to Kari Kozak of the University of Iowa. The Committee received an impressive nomination package for Ms. Kozak detailing her accomplishments and contributions and we unanimously agreed that she is this year’s recipient.

The Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award recognizes contributions to the advancement and development of excellence in engineering libraries. 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!”

When discussing Ms. Kozak’s nomination, the committee recalled the overwhelming task of switching the 2021 Annual Conference to an online setting. While we had met virtually in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ASEE had initially intended the 2021conference to be back in person. However, due to various circumstances, the 2021 conference also was held virtually. The conference planning committee did a fantastic job of it overall, and we fondly remembered the wonderful details that Kari employed to keep the spirit of the ELD group. She worked with Hema Ramachandran (an awards committee member and Long Beach, California area resident) to identify and purchase a local treat that could be sent to ELD attendees (as the 2021 conference was set to take place in Long Beach that year). Kari worked tirelessly to create the typical atmosphere the ELD group experiences at the Annual Conference but in a virtual setting. And she absolutely succeeded! This is just yet another example of her amazing devotion to ELD.

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 Lichtenberger 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. She has been on advisory boards for ASME, IEEE, ASTM, and Engineering Village. 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.”

Congratulations, Kari, for demonstrating the epitome of what “distinguished service” to ELD and beyond looks like!