Helen Tibbo, Alumni Distinguished Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), has been named the 41st recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Indiana University-Bloomington (IU) Information and Library Science program at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SICE). She will be honored at the SICE alumni reception and award ceremony at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in New Orleans. The SICE reception is scheduled for Sunday, June 24, from 4:30-6:30PM at the Blaine Kern Ballroom A&B of the Marriott Hotel-Convention Center. Tibbo's award will be presented near the beginning of the event, so you can see her recognized and still make the SILS reception from 5-7:00 pm.
Tibbo, a 1983 graduate of the then-IU School of Library and Information Science, 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, she 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 MLS in 1983 and served as a graduate assistant at both SLIS and the University of Maryland, where she earned her PhD in Library and Information Science in 1989.
At UNC, Tibbo developed the Archives and Records Management (ARM) concentration for SILS master’s students and the Professional Science Master’s Degree in Digital Curation – the first master’s degree focused on digital curation in the U.S. – which she now directs. She has been principal investigator on several Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS)-funded projects that have helped define digital curation best practices, particularly for government and scientific research data. Most recently, she received IMLS funding for “Curating Research Assets and Data using Lifecycle Education: Data Management Education Tools for Librarians, Archivists, & Content Creators" or CRADLE, a project that funded the creation of the Research Data Management and Sharing MOOC.
“Over almost 30 years at UNC, Helen has shaped an internationally recognized program in digital curation,” said SILS Dean Gary Marchionini. “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, the highest honor bestowed on individuals by the organization. She has led numerous workshops and conferences, and she created courses and credentials that have furthered the study of digital curation. She 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, 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.”