Professional News

UK Libraries Recognizes Beth Kraemer as 2020 Willis Award Recipient

headshot photo of Beth Kraemer
Beth Kraemer

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 29, 2020) — University of Kentucky Libraries recognizes longtime faculty member Beth Kraemer as the recipient of the 2020 Paul A. Willis Outstanding Faculty Award.

“(Beth) is an excellent candidate whose professional achievements demonstrate distinguished performance in her primary assignment, institutional leadership, scholarship and innovation,” said Eric Weig, the university’s digital library architect, and Kelly Vickery, director of library information technology.

Kraemer received her master’s degree in library science from the University of Kentucky and began working with UK Libraries in 1999. Throughout her career, Kraemer has been enthusiastic about experimenting with new technologies to explore potential benefits in education and libraries. 

She was a leader in encouraging the university to adopt electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), and served as conference co-chair when the university brought the international Electronic Theses and Dissertations Symposium to campus in 2004. Kraemer was also one of the primary developers of UK Libraries’ website content management system, at a time when there were not many such systems available commercially. 

Kraemer has a long record of service on university level, technology-related projects. She was among a small group of librarians who organized the first University of Kentucky virtual college fair held in Second Life in 2007, and continued to serve as manager, organizer and advocate for the multidisciplinary UK Virtual World Project for nearly 10 years. She has also served as chair of the university’s Information Technology Coordinating Committee, co-chair of the Student IT Enablement Task Force and as a member of the UK Apple Partnership Academic Advisory Board. For her valuable work, Kraemer was the faculty recipient of the ITS Customer Excellence Award for Leadership in IT Advancement in 2018.

Kraemer currently works in the Information Literacy department, collaborating with colleagues to develop online tutorials and other materials to support library instruction. Recently, she created a completely online Information Literacy course available to all students at UK.

Kraemer was also fundamental in UK Libraries’ shift to online service delivery, hosting virtual office hours with instructional design librarian Stacey Greenwell, as well as virtual happy hours and book discussions to keep library personnel engaged with their colleagues while working from home.

Innovation is a common thread running through many of Kraemer’s projects and interests. In 2018, she spearheaded a library project to promote the role of curiosity in education known as “Curiosity is Key.” The project, created to highlight the importance of curiosity in higher education, involved on-campus and virtual exhibits, drop-in information sessions, field trips and the now-annual Curiosity Fair. An estimated 400 people attended the 2019 Curiosity Fair, which included 40 curiosity stations exhibiting disciplines ranging from science and technology to art and music.

“Beth’s determination and attention to innovative technological trends serve to foster important initiatives like the Curiosity Fair which, without her efforts, would not exist,” Weig and Vickery said.

The Paul A. Willis Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of a UK Libraries faculty member who stands out amongst their colleagues. Willis Award recipients are recognized annually at the UK Libraries Spring Gala, and Kraemer will be recognized at the postponed gala in spring 2021, along with this year’s winner of the Medallion for Intellectual Achievement, Professor Emeritus Robert Lawson; the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Performance recipients, Kelly McQueen, assistant director of finance, M Slone, programmer, and Sarah Watson, maps and geospatial services manager; and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Scholarship recipients, who will be named in the spring semester of 2021.

“I am thrilled to receive the Paul A. Willis Outstanding Faculty Award. Our library faculty are all truly outstanding. It is an honor just to be part of this organization, doing work I love with colleagues who are all accomplished and dedicated,” Kraemer said.

The Willis Award is named for Paul A. Willis, former director of UK Libraries. A 1963 UK graduate, Willis served as a library director for 41 years throughout the Southeast. He worked as a cataloger at Library of Congress before beginning his master’s in library science. In 1966, he began as a circulation librarian at UK's Law Library before becoming university law librarian. He then served as director of UK Libraries from 1973 to 2003. He later served as University of South Carolina's dean of libraries from 2004 until 2007. During his career at UK, Willis created the Information Alliance consortium, planned construction of the William T. Young Library, and expanded its collection and services.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.