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Pioneer in Digital Curation and Archival Science receives 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award

2018-08-15
Helen Tibbo

Helen Tibbo has been honored with the 41st Distinguished Alumni Award from the Information and Library Science program at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SICE).

Tibbo, a 1983 graduate of the then-IU School of Library and Information Science, is currently the Director of the Professional Science Master’s Degree in Digital Curation and an Alumni Distinguished Professor for the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Tibbo was nominated by Devan Donaldson, an assistant professor of information science at SICE.

“I think Helen’s accomplishments really speak for themselves,” Donaldson said. “Over the past 30 years, Helen has pioneered research in archival science and digital curation. Her accomplishments are truly worthy of honor and recognition. My hope is that I can carry on the legacy she began at IU by training students who are as quick-witted, thorough, and able to contribute to the development of the ILS field as her.”

Tibbo earned her undergraduate degree in English from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts in 1977, and she worked as a junior high school English teacher until 1982 when she enrolled at IU. She earned her M.L.S. in 1983 and served as a graduate assistant at both SLIS and the University of Maryland, where she earned her Ph.D. in Library and Information Science in 1989.

Tibbo became an assistant professor in SILS at North Carolina in 1989 and rose through the school, becoming an associate dean in the late 1990s and a full professor in 2003. She was a pioneer in the study of online research, and Tibbo has worked to define problems and solutions of the challenges of preserving digital assets.

“Over almost 30 years at UNC, Helen has shaped an internationally recognized program in digital curation,” said Gary Marchionini, the dean and Cary C. Boshamer Professor of SILS. “She has influenced scholars and students around the world to think about the issues of digital curation and preservation of digital assets in enterprises ranging from small community archives to national repositories and archives. Helen is recognized as a scholar and teacher, and reflects brightly on IU as one of the school’s most distinguished alumni.”

Tibbo has served as the president of the Society of American Archivists, the largest professional society in the field, and is an SAA Fellow, which is awarded for lifetime achievement. She has led numerous workshops and conferences, and she created courses and credentials that have furthered the study of digital curation. Tibbo also was named a Digital Pioneer by the Library of Congress in 2001.

“Professor Tibbo has long been a pioneer in archival research and education,” said Elizabeth Yakel, the professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Michigan. “She has demonstrated exceptional skills in conducting rigorous research. She was an early innovator in successfully rethinking and redesigning curricula to focus on digital curation at both the master’s and the continuing education levels. Her service to the profession in many positions has been impactful.”

Tibbo’s efforts have made her a globally renowned researcher, and her work at UNC raised the profile of the school’s reputation in the world of digital preservation.

“Helen’s contributions have had a lasting effect on the profession, on her students, on her host institution, and on all those who, like me, have had the pleasure of working with her,” said Kevin Ashley, the director of the Digital Curation Centre at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. “I have every expectation that there is yet more to come, but her achievements so far are already worthy of recognition.”

Tibbo will be honored at the SICE alumni reception and award ceremony at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in New Orleans June 24.

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