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Simmons College Confers Awards on Top Librarians

BOSTON (March 28, 2007) — The Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science has conferred its 2007 Alumni Achievement Awards on a Vietnamese librarian who created new services for children and the visually impaired, and an expert on urban libraries who runs the largest library in Oregon.

The annual Alumni Achievement Awards recognize Simmons graduates who have exceeded the boundaries of their current positions by achieving influence as outstanding role models for library and information professionals.

Nguyen Thi Bac, who received her master's degree in library and information science from Simmons in 1995, was one of the first library students from Vietnam to study at Simmons under a new program designed to help the Vietnamese rebuild and expand their country's library services. Nguyen returned to Vietnam after completing her studies and created new library services for the people of Ho Chi Minh City while assuming top leadership roles in the Vietnamese library profession. Today Nguyen is the director of the General Sciences Library of Ho Chi Minh City, one of the largest libraries in the region.

Nguyen is also a vice president of the newly formed Vietnam Library Association and was chosen one of the top women leaders in Ho Chi Minh City.  She sits on the boards of a number of library organizations in Vietnam.

After completing her master's degree at Simmons, Nguyen studied library preservation at Cornell University and, upon returning to Vietnam, established a library preservation center that trains people from cultural institutions throughout southern Vietnam, in addition to handling preservation work for the General Sciences Library. She also worked with the non-profit FORCE Foundation to develop library services for the blind and visually impaired, including providing Braille books and computer-assisted access to information.

Inspired by children's libraries she visited while in the U.S., Nguyen created a children's library in the General Sciences Library with assistance from local groups and the French Consulate and Consular Wives Group.  She also brought free Internet access to library patrons by establishing a new media center in the library. This year, she secured a grant to outfit a bookmobile, or mobile library, to provide services to Ho Chi Minh City residents who live far from the library. 

Molly Raphael, the other award recipient, is the director of libraries for the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon. The library is the largest public library in the state and the oldest public library west of the Mississippi.

Previously, Raphael ran the District of Columbia Public Library in Washington, D.C., where she began her career as an assistant children's librarian in a branch library in 1970.  She became library director of the city's public library system in 1998, and left for Oregon in 2003.

Raphael has been an active member of the American Library Association for more than three decades. She co-founded the association's library service for the deaf in 1976. She has also served on the association's governing board.  She is past president of the District of Columbia Library Association, and a member of the Urban Libraries Council, Freedom to Read Foundation, and the Friends of Libraries U.S.A.   

The Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science was established in 1902 and today is one of the oldest and largest graduate schools of library science in North America.  The school has more than 9,000 alumni in library and information science positions around the world.  Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston.