MSLS student Erin Rutherford wins Sara Aull Award from Carolinas SLA

Release date: 

December 1, 2017

Although she only in began pursuing her Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) this year, Erin Rutherford is no stranger to cataloguing, curating, and supervising collections. She arrived with nearly a decade of experience in collections management and registrarial roles from multiple art institutions in Canada.


Erin Rutherford, right, with SILS Librarian Rebecca Vargha at the CSLA banquet
in November, where Rutherford received the Sara Aull Student Award.

Working with the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Dufferin County Museum and Archives, and Waddington’s Auctioneers and Appraisers, among others, Rutherford oversaw the relocation and installation of over 4,000 artworks in 110 gallery spaces, as well the processing of over 1,500 historic pieces.

“My entry into the library and information sciences is a natural consequent of nine years working as a registrar in arts institutions,” she said. “Librarianship embodies the aspects of registration I find most rewarding: caring for physical objects, information and records management, scholarly research, and customer service.”

Now she is excited to pair her professional experiences with the organizational opportunities offered by the Museums, Arts & Humanities Division of the Special Library Association (SLA). Rutherford was awarded the 2018 Sara Aull Student Award at the Carolinas Chapter of the Special Libraries Association (CSLA) Annual Banquet in November. As part of the award, Rutherford will receive a year of paid student membership to the SLA, CSLA, and a division of her choice, plus appointment to a committee at the CSLA.

“The value of participating in CSLA lies in its scope and its mission,” Rutherford said. “Whether in a cultural or an academic institution, my desired career path will lead to a workplace that falls within the parameters of SLA.”

Rutherford hopes that through her involvement in CSLA, she can help grow the organization through recruitment among student populations and assist in promoting the profession to the larger community.

At SILS, Rutherford is just finishing up her second semester. In addition to receiving the Aull Award, she cites Associate Professor Melanie Feinberg’s section of INLS520 among the high points. “Wrestling with the complexity and fragility of organizing systems has been both exhilarating and crisis inducing in the best of ways.  I cannot say enough positive things about this class.”

Over the summer sessions, Rutherford worked as the Assessment Project Graduate Assistant at the Park Library in the UNC School of Media and Journalism, where she assisted with daily library tasks and helped Library Director Stephanie Willen Brown develop rubrics and evaluate existing assessment measures for academic work in the School.

Currently, Rutherford is the Josiah Charles Trent Intern for the History of Medicine Collections at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University. There, she works with Curator Rachel Ingold to provide reference services for users of the History of Medicine Collection, assists with library instruction, and assists with public programming and outreach activities.

“The highlight of my first semester at Duke – watching students connect with and puzzle over texts such as Andreas Vesalius’s landmark atlas of the human body, De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543) or Hans von Gersdorff’s Feldtbuch der Wundt Artzney (1551),” she said.

In addition to her work at the Rubenstein Library, Rutherford serves as the Visual Studies Volunteer at Lilly Library at Duke. She works alongside Librarian for Visual Studies and Dance Lee Sorensen on projects like digitization proposals, assisting with the Dictionary of Art Historians, and a collection development analysis of current museum exhibition catalog programs.

While Rutherford is still in the early stages of developing her master’s paper, her current inspiration stems from the scholarship of Johanna Drucker.

“I am interested in investigating the form of the artist’s book and, based on that form, arriving at a better understanding of the implications of digitizing artists’ books,” she said.