Roger McDonough Librarianship Award

The award is named for Roger H. McDonough, New Jersey State Librarian from 1947 to 1975. Beginning in 2002 the NJSAA, along with the New Jersey Historical Commission, Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference New Jersey Caucus, and the New Jersey Library Association History and Preservation Section, has given an award to a librarian or archivist or manuscript curator for excellence in service to the New Jersey history research community and/or the general public.

Members of the Librarianship Award Committee are Elsalyn Palmisano, Tara Maharjan, Maxine Lurie, and Gary Saretzky  (Chair).

Criteria and the nomination form for the Roger McDonough Librarianship Award may be found here. Nominations for the Roger McDonough Librarianship Award are due August 1.

Past recipients of the NJSAA McDonough Librarianship Award are:

2023 Ingrid Betancourt, Newark Public Library and founder of the Hispanic Information Resource Center

Ingrid Betancourt has provided 40+ years of outstanding service to the library and community as a Librarian at the Newark Public Library, serving in numerous leadership positions, including Assistant Director of Special Collections, Interim Library Director, and currently, Director of Operations. She has served as President and Vice-President of REFORMA - the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking and is a co-founder of the REFORMA Northeast Chapter.

In 1989, Ingrid helped found the New Jersey Hispanic Research and Information Center which includes the Puerto Rican Community Archives, the Hispanic Reference Collection, and La Sala Hispanoamericana. La Sala, the main reference service point for the Newark Public Library’s Spanish-speaking patrons, houses one of the largest Spanish-language book collections in public libraries in the state of New Jersey with over 30,000 volumes. And for more than thirty years, Ingrid was instrumental in expanding the Library’s annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration, a comprehensive series of free public programming and exhibits focusing on New Jersey Latino community and topics that unite all Latinos.

From 1991 to 2005, Ingrid also served as Director of MultiMAC, the Multilingual Materials Acquisition Center, a New Jersey information clearinghouse and resource center on library services and materials in selected world languages. Ingrid Betancourt has consistently demonstrated a high level of public service by spearheading La Sala, and later, the NJHRIC. These library initiatives exponentially increased the free library resources available to the state’s Spanish-speaking community and historians.

2022 Laura Poll, Trentoniana Local History Department of the Trenton Free Public Library

With more than 20 years of relevant experience that has provided her with great respect and admiration from professional colleagues and the general public alike, this year’s recipient is Laura Poll of Freehold, Archivist with the Trentoniana Local History Department of the Trenton Free Public Library since 2015. At Trentoniana, she has grown the collection, curated numerous local history exhibits, and contributed to Trenton history exhibits at Ellarslie, The City Museum. Laura has helped innumerable historians and students with local history projects. Regarding her help to students from a class taught at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) for more than five years, Dr. Warren Buckleitner of TCNJ, who nominated Laura for this award, commented, “Laura has been like a second teacher for the class; helping our students find items of interest, and then digging deeper into the historical context of the items in order to give them a voice.”

Previously to Trentoniana, Laura held library and archives positions at the Monmouth County Historical Association from 2002 to 2015, as well as Senior Librarian, Reference Services, at the Monmouth County Library in Manalapan (2002–2005) and Registrar of Collections/Librarian at Historic Allaire Village (2002–2006). In her work for historians and others using these resources, Laura provided stellar reference services that has been a model for her professional colleagues to emulate.

Laura Poll has made notable contributions to the sponsoring organizations for this award. For MARAC, she served two terms as New Jersey Caucus Chair (2014–2018) and has been a CAPES Consultant since 2008. As Program Coordinator for NJSAA (2013–2021), she recruited and scheduled speakers on New Jersey history-related topics for more than 30 public programs. Also for NJSAA, she served on the Development Committee (2015–2018) and, since 2012, continues to be a member of its annual Author Award Committee. Laura was a Member-at-Large for NJLA H&P and was an ex-officio member of its Executive Board (2016–2018). Currently, she is a member of the NJLA Archives & History Committee. For NJHC’s grant and regrant programs, she has served as a grant reviewer on both the state and county level. Laura has also been a Trustee-at-Large of the League of Historical Societies of New Jersey (2014–2018) and Webmaster (2015–2018). In addition to these professional activities, she has been a speaker at more than twenty conferences sponsored by these and other organizations, giving presentations on both New Jersey studies topics and archival methodology, and has contributed book reviews to New Jersey Studies, the online journal sponsored by NJHC and Rutgers. All of these activities have served to enhance significantly the viability and effectiveness of these professional organizations and agencies in providing services to its constituents.

2021 Dr. Fernanda Perrone, Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University

Dr. Fernanda Perrone serves as Archivist and Head of the Exhibitions Program as well as Curator of the William Elliot Griffis Collection at Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries. She has been Archivist of Rutgers University Special Collections for more than 25 years and Head of exhibitions since 2003. She came to Rutgers in 1992 to work in manuscript collections at Rutgers after receiving her Ph.D. from Oxford. Dr. Perrone attended the Rutgers School of Library Science (MLS 1995) when she decided to pursue archives as her profession. 

Dr. Perrone has had a significant impact on New Jersey studies with her publications, lectures, workshops, teaching, and work on New Jersey History Day. In addition, she speaks to community organizations, schools, and religious groups throughout the state to discuss her historical research and Rutgers’ collections on topics such as education, women, religion, and slavery in New Jersey. She has had a major impact on the archives and library professions and an even greater impact on education. Her many contributions throughout her career encompass each category of the profession as a librarian, archivist, and curator.  Dr. Perrone has been active in many professional organizations, including MARAC, NJLA, SAA, and NJSAA. She has won numerous awards, including the MARAC Service Award, the New Jersey History Day Educator of the Year, and the Catholic Library Association Brubaker Memorial Award, and is a perennial speaker at professional conferences. In addition, she has successfully provided leadership and vision by winning support for archival exhibitions and collaborative research projects in New Jersey Studies.  She genuinely believes in education, the importance of scholarship and values the people around her.

2020     Deborah Mercer, New Jersey State Library

On behalf of the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance, the New Jersey Historical Commission, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference-New Jersey Caucus, and the New Jersey Library Association History & Preservation Section, we are pleased to announce Deborah Mercer as the winner of the 2020 Roger H. McDonough Award.  This award is presented to a librarian, archivist, or manuscript curator for 10 or more years of excellence in service to the New Jersey history research community and/or the general public.  As the New Jersey Collections librarian at the New Jersey State Library since 2002, Ms. Mercer has played a pivotal role in expanding access to historic New Jersey documents, rare books, maps and Jerseyana resources for all types of public and private researchers, and state government officials.  The nomination for Ms. Mercer noted, “Deborah creates opportunities to make history more accessible to others, not just through the collection management and digitization work she does, but through programs, displays and participation in statewide organizations. She seeks ways to broaden appreciation for the rich history New Jersey offers its citizens.”  Her dedication to the field does not end with her duties at the State Library.  Ms. Mercer provides her expertise and dedication to her additional work with the New Jersey Historical Commission, New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance, New Jersey Library Association, and Documents Association of New Jersey.  

2019      Ellen Callahan,  New Jersey State Archives Collection Manager 

Ellen recently retired as New Jersey State Archives Collection Manager after 28 years of service. At the State Archives, she processed numerous record series and produced outstanding finding aids. Her detailed guides to Revolutionary War records, in particular, are highly valued for their scholarship. Ellen played a critical role in assisting the State Archivist Joseph Klett in planning and executing the move of the State Archives to its present location in 2000, involving more than 30,000 cubic feet of records. Among numerous subsequent activities, she supervised a $700,000 Save America Treasures project to stabilize and repair more than 5,000 leaves of Revolutionary War documents. Ellen’s outstanding professional accomplishments merit her selection as this year’s McDonough Award recipient.

2017        Thomas J. Frusciano, University Archivist of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Thomas J. Frusciano, the University Archivist of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. A New Jersey native, Tom is a tenured member of the library staff at Rutgers University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. He began his professional career as an archivist at Educational Testing Services in Princeton.  Tom then became the first professionally trained university archivist at New York University, and later co-authored New York University and the City: An Illustrated History. At Rutgers since 1989, Frusciano has written or edited histories of the Presidents of Rutgers, Douglass College, and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team, among many other subjects. In recent years, he played an integral role in the 2016 Rutgers 250th celebration, library exhibit, and commemorative historical volume entitled Rutgers: A 250th Anniversary Portrait. Starting in 2015, he also served on the Rutgers Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations, which produced the report Scarlet and Black.  Beyond Rutgers, Frusciano has long been professionally active, particularly in the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC). He was elected to the SAA Council from 2009 to 2012, co-edited the SAA manual Archival Arrangement and Description (2013), and was named an SAA Fellow in 2002. He has taught archival courses at both New York University’s Archival Management and Public History program, and the Rutgers School of Communication and Information. Some of his former students are now archivists and librarians at archives, libraries, and historical societies throughout New Jersey. He has also served on several editorial boards and co-edited the Journal of Archival Organization.

2016        Gary D. Saretzky, Monmouth County Archives

Gary D. Saretzky has worked as an archivist for more than 45 years at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, the ETS Archives, and the Monmouth County Archives. He has been County Archivist since 1994, when the Archives opened to the public. The Archives now has more than one thousand users annually and 280 web pages, plus online databases and digitized records. Gary has organized all twenty-one Archives and History Day events since 1996 and curated or co-curated the annual New Jersey history exhibits here that coincide with Archives Week. As the second Coordinator for the Rutgers Public History Internships from 1994 to 2016, he greatly expanded the program and placed more than 800 history majors at 149 archives, libraries, museums, and other sites. Gary is a former Chair of the New Jersey Caucus of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) and past president of the Preservation Section of the New Jersey Library Association. He served for 15 years on the New Jersey State Historical Records Advisory Board and, for the New Jersey State Librarian, 14 years on the State Library’s Committee on Preservation and Access. Since 1975, Gary has written more than 60 consultant reports for archives in New Jersey, including for MARAC’s CAPES program which began in 1989. He has taught numerous seminars and workshops on archival topics, including photographic conservation, for Monmouth County, the Society of American Archivists, MARAC, the New Jersey Library Association, and other organizations. As an adjunct professor, he taught the history of photography at Mercer County Community College from 1977 to 2012 and lectures regularly on New Jersey’s pioneer photographers under the auspices of the Horizons Speakers Bureau of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. He has published more than 100 articles and reviews, including “Nineteenth-Century New Jersey Photographers” in New Jersey History in 2004 and his most recent on Charlotte Prosch, New Jersey’s first woman photographer, in Garden State Legacy.

2015        Ronald L. Becker, Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University

 A career archivist, he joined Special Collections in 1974 after serving as cataloger and bibliographer for the New Jersey Historical Society.  During the past four decades, Becker has had an incredibly productive career and is widely respected and admired in the archives and library communities.  To organize and preserve Rutgers’ outstanding manuscript collections, he has obtained more than $4 million in awards from foundations as well as federal and state agencies.  He has served on more than a dozen editorial and advisory boards and commissions including the New Jersey State Historical Records Advisory Board and the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, which he currently chairs.  Becker has played a leadership role in many professional associations, including a term as President of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference and as a founding member of the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance.  A past editor of the Mid-Atlantic Archivist from 1983 to 1992, he has published numerous scholarly papers, including his award-winning article, “Ethics in Providing Access,” in the journal Provenance.  As a model archivist, dedicated to public service, Ronald L. Becker is entirely deserving of the Roger McDonough Librarianship Award. 

2014        Janet T. Riemer, Head of Preservation Emerita, Rutgers University; and Corresponding Secretary, Genealogical Society of New Jersey

In the later capacity, Janet has answered hundreds of New Jersey history and genealogy inquiries and compiled a guide to New Jersey tombstone inscriptions.  She is an original CAPES consultant and as such has visited numerous repositories throughout the State and provided critical advice on preservation, collection description, and public service needs.  At Rutgers, she served as Professor of Textiles at Douglass for fourteen years before joining Special Collections and University Archives as head of preservation.  She set up the preservation laboratory in 1984 and oversaw its growth over fifteen additional years before retiring from full-time employment in 1999.  At Rutgers, Janet also provided (and continues to provide on a part-time basis) valuable reference service, support for exhibitions and public programs, and numerous other services in addition to to her preservation activities.  Her service to the New Jersey history and genealogy communities is legendary and much appreciated with the awarding of this honor.

2013      Bette Epstein, New Jersey State Archives

For nearly four decades, Ms. Epstein has served New Jersey’s history and genealogy communities with distinction, becoming something of a legend in her own career. After receiving her M.L.S. from Western Michigan University, Bette joined the staff of the former Bureau of Archives and History, then part of the State Library, in 1974. She worked as a librarian and then archivist in reference services until the Bureau was split off from the State Library as the Division of Archives and Records Management (DARM) in 1983. During her time in the State Library, she worked with and trained under several well-known reference librarians including Robert Lupp (the first recipient of the Roger McDonough Librarianship Award) who, with Bette, worked for Roger McDonough, namesake of this award. She acquired extensive knowledge of the State Library’s and Bureau of Archives and History’s holdings, including manuscript, microfilm, map and reference book collections. This knowledge has aided generations of researchers over the years, and is still an important aspect of the State Archives’ institutional memory.

In 1983, Bette assumed oversight of the Reference Unit of the State Archives Bureau, within DARM. In this capacity, she has trained dozens of young librarians, interns and volunteers, inspiring them to pursue careers in New Jersey libraries and archives. In 1986, she earned an Advanced Certificate in Librarianship from Columbia University. In the late 1990s, Following the relocation of the Archives to 225 West State Street in 2000, Bette was promoted to the Supervising Archivist title. She is personally responsible, in good part, for the excellent reputation New Jersey State

Archives has nationally as a service-oriented institution. She has aided thousands of historians and genealogists, always going the extra mile to help researchers find elusive information and/or plan their research strategy. Bette has also volunteered her librarian skills over the years to various organizations, including the Congregation Brothers of Israel and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference.

2012    Joseph DaRold, Plainfield Public Library

Ron Becker, Archives and Special Collections, Rutgers University Libraries presents Award certificate to Joseph DaRold, Plainfield Public Library, at Monmouth County Archives Day 2012.

2011    Bonita Craft Grant, Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries

l. to r. M. Claire French, Monmouth County Clerk; Lillian Burry, Monmouth County Freeholder; NJSAA Roger McDonough Librarianship Award recipient Bonita Craft Grant, Archives and Special Collections, Rutgers University Libraries; Ron Becker, Archives and Special Collections, Rutgers University Libraries; Mary McMahon, President of the History and Preservation Section of the New Jersey Library Association. Photo courtesy of Fred Pachman.

2010    Susan Gulick, former Executive Director of the Morristown and Morris Township Library

Gary Saretzky, Monmouth County Archivist; Susan Gulick, former Executive Director of the Morristown and Morris Township Library; and Ron Becker,

Archives and Special Collections, Rutgers University Libraries; at Monmouth County's Archives Day, 2010.

2009    David Mitros

Ron Becker, Chair of the Award Committee, and 2009 recipient, David Mitros.

2008    Joe Klett

2007    Lois Densky Wolff

2006    Karl Niederer

2005    Joseph Felcone

2004    Charles Cummings

2003    Elsalyn Palmisano

2002    Robert Lupp