SLA Honors Judith Currano with Vormelker Award

Honoree Teaches Chemical Information Retrieval to Professionals and Students

McLean, Virginia, 18 April 2016—A sought-after teacher of students and trainer of professionals will be honored by the Special Libraries Association for her commitment to advancing the development and knowledge of people from all backgrounds (especially her fellow librarians) who are engaged in the study of chemistry.

Judith Currano_Vormelker 2016

Judith N. Currano, head of the Chemistry Library at the University of Pennsylvania, will receive the Rose L. Vormelker Award during the opening session of the SLA 2016 Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO. The award presentation will take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, which is less than 20 minutes away from the part of campus where Judith works.

Each year at its conference, SLA bestows the Vormelker Award upon one or more members in good standing who have actively worked to teach and mentor their fellow librarians and students. The award’s namesake, Rose Vormelker (1895-1994), had a robust career that included working in public and corporate libraries and assisting the federal government in installing war and defense information centers in 4,000 libraries across the nation. The final decades of her career, however, were devoted to teaching at Kent State University, as an assistant professor. The impact she had on academic and professional development in others inspired the creation of the award, which is given to individuals who are similarly invested in furthering learning in others.

About Judith Currano
In addition to her role as the head of the Chemistry Library at Penn, Judith teaches a course in chemical information that is required of all first-year doctoral students in chemistry, gives lectures on information resources to every student enrolled in Penn’s undergraduate organic chemistry laboratory courses, and is an active member of the Penn Women in Chemistry professional group.

Though she does much of her instructing at the university, Judith’s knowledge of chemical information resources and passion for teaching are also in demand outside academia. For example, she has provided training to professionals in the government and corporate sectors, including employees at the Army Research Library and BASF.

A member of SLA since 1999, Judith has been an engaged and influential leader in SLA’s Chemistry Division, as membership chair, list owner, professional development chair, and, most recently, liaison to the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Information. In 2000, she joined the Philadelphia Chapter, which has been not only supportive but instrumental in her development of several of her educational materials for non-chemist professionals. She creates and teaches continuing education (CE) courses focused on chemical information retrieval, including “Chemical Information Sources, Requests, and References,” which will be offered at SLA 2016. Over the years, she has developed Webinars for SLA, such as “Truncating Molecules: Basic Techniques in Structure and Substructure Searching for Information Professionals.” She also participates regularly in the Chemistry Division’s Conference Buddy program, mentoring a first-time attendee at each SLA Annual Conference.

Those who have taken Judith’s courses laud her for employing hands-on techniques and keeping her course materials relevant and up to date by including case studies and exercises that have real-life applications. Much of the appeal of Judith’s courses can be attributed to her keen awareness of, and care for, those who unexpectedly find themselves working or studying in the fields of chemistry and chemical information. One of her courses, “Chemistry for the Non-Chemist Librarian,” and a Webinar, “Chemical Information for the Non-Practitioner,” are examples of her commitment to using education to increase the knowledge, confidence, and ability of her students and trainees. She intuitively understands and addresses the communication difficulties that chemists face in describing their information needs to non-chemist librarians, and she excels at teaching librarians from non-chemical backgrounds about the types of assistance chemists want and need from reference librarians.

In addition to authoring numerous journal articles, Judith has co-edited three books: Chemical Information for Chemists: A Primer (2014), Science and the Law: Analytical Data in Support of Regulation in Health, Food and the Environment (2014), and Science and the Law: How the Communication of Science Affects Policy Development in the Environment, Food, Health, and Transport Sector (2015).

About SLA
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit international organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves information professionals in more than 60 countries and in a range of working environments, including business, academia and government agencies. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy and networking initiatives. For more information, visit

Andrea Bomar

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