campus news

Adelman named UB’s first SUNY Distinguished Librarian


Published July 8, 2024

Beth Adelman.
“The impact of library work is often invisible, so this is personally gratifying and speaks to the excellent work of UB librarians and the entire profession. ”
Elizabeth “Beth” Adelman, SUNY Distinguished Librarian
School of Law

Elizabeth “Beth” Adelman, director of the Charles B. Sears Law Library and vice dean for legal information services in the School of Law, was appointed last month to the rank of SUNY Distinguished Librarian, the first librarian in UB history to receive that distinction.

Adelman is a visionary librarian who has reshaped the landscape of legal resources available to students, scholars and practitioners, according to Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, vice provost for university libraries.

“Achieving the rank of SUNY Distinguished Librarian is a testament to Beth’s exceptional dedication, scholarly excellence and transformative impact on our academic community,” says Weinraub Lajoie. “As the first person on our campus to attain this prestigious honor, she has set a new benchmark for excellence and leadership in the field of librarianship.

“We are incredibly proud to have her as a part of our team, and her achievement underscores the vital role that academic libraries play in fostering knowledge and innovation.”

The immediate past president of the American Association of Law Libraries, Adelman is the author of several books, including “New York Legal Research.” She helped initiate development of an open-access research repository that as of 2024 has registered more than 700,000 downloads, and helped develop the award-winning “New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations Digital Archive,” which makes historical regulatory documents digitally accessible to those who otherwise face information access barriers. 

Adelman says the archive, a collaboration with two other law libraries, is one of her proudest accomplishments and representative of a future benefiting from shared resources and services.

“This recognition means everything to me,” says Adelman. “I’ve spent the last 18 years helping to develop the UB Law Library and I’m honored to achieve this rank.”

The SUNY Distinguished rank is the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system. SUNY Distinguished Librarian is one of four Distinguished Ranks conferred by the chancellor and board of trustees, including Distinguished Professor, Distinguished Service Professor and Distinguished Teaching Professor.

The rank of Distinguished Librarian is presented to librarians whose contributions have been transformational in creating a new information environment by providing access to information, sharing or networking information resources, and fostering information literacy.

“The impact of library work is often invisible, so this is personally gratifying and speaks to the excellent work of UB librarians and the entire profession,” says Adelman. “The libraries’ faculty have been an inspiring group to work with during my tenure at UB.”

Adelman says she’s had a lifelong fascination with research, matched only by her interest in law. Becoming a law librarian was, for her, “the best of both of worlds.”

But the world of libraries has changed drastically from the early 1990s, when Adelman was a UB student studying history as an undergraduate and information and library studies as a graduate student. The reality of the digital future had reached cruising speed by the time she received her JD from the Albany Law School in 2001.

The fundamentals, however, are constant, Adelman notes.

“Every day, whether through the card catalog of the past or doing an online search today, we’re still putting people in touch with information,” she says. “It’s about connecting people to information.

“The way you get there has changed, but the destination is the same.”

Adelman says artificial intelligence will further alter the library environment.

“Librarians can play an important role to leverage AI in ways that help students and professionals find and make sense of information easier and faster,” she says. “And as is the case with any emerging technology, we can provide guidance for its practical and ethical use.”

For all of her accomplishments, being able to contribute to student achievement and supporting the faculty’s academic endeavors are the most gratifying aspects of Adelman’s role.

“I’m passionate about continuing to build services that enable scholarly productivity and bolster student success,” she says.