George Mason University history librarian and alum George D. Oberle, BA History ’96, MA ’99, PhD ’16, is a winner of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award.
The director of the Center for Mason Legacies and an assistant term professor, Oberle is being recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) for his amplification of historically underrepresented voices and the dedication he brings to uncovering and teaching about hidden histories. He is one of 10 librarians selected for this recognition from more than 1,300 nominations from library users across the country.
"After reading the nominations, I am frankly overwhelmed," said Oberle about the award. "The letters are so moving to read, and I feel so lucky to be able to work with so many wonderful people in a place where I received (most of) my degrees. I am still taking it all in."
Applying his dedicated scholarship in history and his commitment to social justice, Oberle has transformed his campus community and its understanding of Mason’s and its namesake’s racial history through his work establishing and leading the Center for Mason Legacies, an interdisciplinary and collaborative research center housed in the university’s Fenwick Library that seeks to preserve and examine the legacy of George Mason IV, his ancestors and heirs, and the people he enslaved.
“Based on the testimonials we received in support of George’s nomination for this award, it is a truly apt recognition; his students and his colleagues—both in CHSS and in Fenwick Library—really do LOVE their librarian!" said Ann Ardis, dean of Mason's College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). "Through his generous, resourceful support to students and colleagues, and through his commitment to scholarly research, he has had an immeasurable impact at George Mason University and to the community beyond. We are so proud to see his work recognized.”
Oberle’s work with the center has culminated in numerous educational resources for the Mason community, including a robust website with an array of primary source materials and a memorial recognizing the individuals enslaved by George Mason in the center of campus.
“Dr. Oberle’s work with the center is remarkably pointed and relevant to these times as he and the teamwork toward uncovering our hidden histories, expanding our historical record and knowledge of both the past and the present, documenting current racial tensions, and seeking a more just future,” wrote Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John Zenelis.
Zenelis continued: “He works directly in the spaces combating erasure and suppression and inspires students and faculty alike as he does so. In these efforts, he embodies not only the time-tested tradition and unique role of libraries in society as knowledge-preservers, but also the knowledge-creation and discovery-learning traditions of research universities.”
“By his example and his accomplishments, George has shown that what starts as a small library project can indeed grow into an important asset supported by the entire university,” wrote Wally Grotophorst, Mason's associate university librarian for digital strategies and systems.
Oberle and this year’s nine other honorees will each receive a $5,000 cash prize, a $750 donation to their library, and complimentary registration to ALA’s LibLearnX. The virtual award ceremony will take place during the conference at 3:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, and will be available to stream live on ALA's YouTube channel.
Since the award’s inception in 2008, library users have shared more than 20,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond to promote literacy, expand access to technology and support diversity and inclusion in their communities. Information regarding previous award winners can be found on the I Love My Librarian website.
Carnegie Corporation of New York generously sponsors the award. The New York Public Library also supports the award. ALA administers the award through its Communications and Marketing Office, which promotes the value of libraries and librarians.