Kay Ann Cassell awarded Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award

Credo Reference

Kay Ann Cassell, Professor Emerita, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers University was selected as the 2019 winner of the Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award, the Reference and User Services Association’s highest honor.
Ms. Cassell has been a dedicated member and contributor to state, national, and international professional organizations–including the Presidency of RUSA, a decade on the ALA Council, chair of the ALA Publications Committee, the ALA Membership Committee, SRRT and a myriad of feminist activities. Her work has been recognized by ACRL’s Women and Gender Studies section with its Career Achievement Award and the ALA Equality Award.

She was the founding editor of Collection Building and a prodigious author of books, articles, pamphlets and opinion columns. She has been a powerful guide, analyst and commentator on reference librarianship for decades. As co-author of Reference and Information Services: An Introduction (4th edition, ALA, 2018) , the leading textbook in its field, she has had a profound influence on twenty-first century reference.


Beginning as a reference librarian at the Brooklyn College Library in 1965, she served as Associate Director for Collections and Services for the New York Public Library Branch Libraries from 1989 to 2006. She’s been the director of the New School for Social Research Library, the Huntington (NY) Public Library and the Bethlehem Public Library and taught at Rutgers University, the Pratt Institute, Queens College and the Palmer School.

Her distinguished career as reference librarian and reference educator, teaching emerging models in a constantly changing world; her scholarship as co-author of the leading textbook on reference, now in its fourth edition; and  her active role in professional library organizations at the state, national and international levels are works that continue the legacy of scholar librarians begun by Isadore Gilbert Mudge at Columbia University so many years ago.

Isadore Gilbert Mudge circa 1932
Portrait, Isadore Gilbert Mudge, dated April 1897 and “circa 1932”, Historical Photograph Collection, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.

During her career, which started in 1903 and concluded in 1941, Isadore Gilbert Mudge increased student independence in research and improved reference collections with several specific types of sources, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and atlases, among others. A pioneer in reference librarianship, she coined the phrase “material, mind, and method” to describe her reference philosophy when she began teaching the class “Bibliography and Bibliographic Methods” as an associate professor at Columbia’s School of Library Services.

Sponsored by Credo Reference, the award consists of $5,000 and a citation to an individual (or individuals) that has made a distinguished contribution to reference librarianship. The awards will be presented to Ms. Cassell at RUSA’s President’s Program, on Saturday, June 22 at ALA’s Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
The Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award selection committee includes: Brian E. Coutts (Chair), Tracy A. Coyne, Paula Pergament,
Dr. Gary W. White and Kathi Woodward.

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