Birdwhistell Named Library School's Distinguished Alumnus
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 20, 2012) — Terry Birdwhistell, dean of libraries and William T. Young Endowed Chair at the University of Kentucky, has been chosen to receive the UK School of Library and Information Science Outstanding Alumnus Award for 2012.
The award will be presented at the School’s Alumni and Awards Banquet, to be held Friday, April 27, at the Double Tree by Hilton. As dean, Birdwhistell is responsible for the nine libraries that make up the library system. He directly supervises 11 associate deans and directors, who are responsible for the work of more than 70 library faculty and professional staff and approximately 135 staff, graduate assistants and student workers.
Birdwhistell oversees a UK Libraries budget that exceeds $21 million. The collections comprise nearly 4 million volumes, including more than 73,000 serial subscriptions and some 400 online databases. He is a member of the University of Kentucky Deans’ Council.
Birdwhistell’s professional career at the University of Kentucky has been characterized by ever greater responsibilities. During his nearly four decades at UK, he has served as associate dean for special collections and digital programs, university archivist and director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.
Birdwhistell helped found and now serves as co-director of the UK Libraries’ Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. As an oral historian, he has conducted more than 800 oral history interviews with Kentuckians from all parts of the Commonwealth, as well as with such notables at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lady Bird Johnson.
One of his major accomplishments as associate dean for special collections and digital programs was managing the transition to the new organizational structure, in which Preservation and Digital Programs were combined with Archives, the Special Collections Library, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. While he was associate dean, UK Libraries received more than $630,000 from the Keeneland Association to preserve and digitize The Daily Racing Form.
Birdwhistell’s service to UK includes membership on the Gaines Center for the Humanities Thesis Committee from 1986 to the present. Since 1997 he has been a member of the UK College of Education Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation program adjunct faculty, and he taught for the School of Library and Information Science from 1993 to 1997 and again in 2004.
He was co-principal investigator for grants totaling $50,000 that led to creation of the Institute for Rural Journalism within the College of Communications and Information Studies. He secured more than $500,000 (including RCTF matching funds) to create an endowment for the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center and more than $1.3 million (including RCTF matching funds) to establish an endowment for the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.
Birdwhistell is co-general editor of "Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series," published by the University Press of Kentucky. His publications include: "Some Kind of Lawyer: Two Journeys from Classroom to Courtroom and Beyond," Kentucky Law Journal (1996); "Divided We Fall: State College and the Normal School Movement in Kentucky, 1880-1910," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society (1990); and "WHAS Radio and the Development of Broadcasting in Kentucky, 1922-1942," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society (1981). He has also been involved in the production of two documentaries broadcast on Kentucky Educational Television: “Kentucky's New Dealer: Ed Prichard Remembers” (1983) and “Long Road Back: Vietnam Remembered” (1985). His dissertation, “An Educated Difference: Women at the University of Kentucky through the Second World War,” was completed in 1994.
Birdwhistell’s awards and honors include induction into the UK College of Education Hall of Fame in 2006. That same year, he was honored by the Kentucky Oral History Commission for "outstanding contributions to oral history in Kentucky.” In 2007, he received UK’s Terry B. Mobley Development Service Award, which is presented to an employee who is not a professional fundraiser but who has demonstrated strong support for fundraising. Also in 2007, UK Office of Research/Odyssey Magazine named Birdwhistell one of UK’s 25 "Movers and Shapers" during the preceding quarter-century.
He has served as president of several professional associations, including the national Oral History Association, the Kentucky-Tennessee Chapter of the American Studies Association, and the Kentucky Council on Archives. He represents UK on the Kentucky State Archives and Records Commission and serves on the advisory committee on the Records of Congress. He was a member of the Kentucky Historical Society Executive Board from 2005 to 2011. At UK, he serves on the steering committee for the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, as a member of the University Senate, and on the UK Historic Marker Committee. He was recently appointed by President Eli Capilouto to UK’s Sesquicentennial Celebration Committee.