NJDOT’s Research Librarian Recognized by the Special Libraries Association with 2024 Innovation Award for Work on the NJDOT Memorial Wall

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) recently announced that its 2024 Innovation Award recipient was Eric Schwarz, NJDOT’s Research Librarian, for his archival research work on the New Jersey DOT Memorial Wall. The SLA Transportation Community Board unanimously approved the nomination and a plaque, sponsored by National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP), was provided in acknowledgement of the achievement. News of the award winners was announced via the National Transportation Knowledge Network (NTKN) Blog. The award will be officially announced at the SLA Annual Conference in Rhode Island later this month.

NJDOT Research Librarian, Eric Schwarz, with SLATRAN 2024 Innovation Award. Photo: Glenn Catana/NJDOT.

The SLA’s award announcement notes the following:

  • In 2000, the NJDOT erected an Employee Memorial wall with a plaque for each of the 32 employees known to have died under these circumstances. Over the years, four names were added, including those of employees who gave their lives in 2007 and 2010. This brought the pre-2023 total of known names to 36.
  • In early 2023, NJDOT Research Librarian Eric Schwarz found the names of five additional men who had sacrificed their lives, in an employee newspaper called The Highway, published from 1942 to 1950. These names were added to the wall during the NJDOT’s 23rd Annual Remembrance Ceremony and 22nd Anniversary of 9/11, held on September 11, 2023.
  • Using the accounts from The Highway, supplemented by research using the New Jersey State Library’s newspaper databases and draft registration cards from the military records database (Fold3), Eric pieced together the stories of these five men, their deaths, and their lives. He presented stories of these men, and of the archival and digitization work, as the keynote speaker at the NJDOT 2023 Remembrance Ceremony.
  • Then-New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti presented Eric Schwarz with a plaque for his research leading to the addition of five names on the memorial wall.
  • Based on this work, Eric presented a poster at the TRB Annual Meeting on Jan. 8, 2024, “Discoveries in the First Year of New Jersey DOT’s Digitization Project.”  He also presented the project to the Transportation Librarians Roundtable, Special Libraries Association Transportation Community Collection Showcase, and several other venues.
Eric presented “lessons learned” implementing Digitization Project during TRB poster session at Annual Meeting in Washington DC.

Earlier this year, Eric gave a “Lunch and Learn” presentation to NJDOT employees that provided information about NJDOT’s Digitization Project along with the poster presented at the 2024 TRB Annual Meeting,  

More information about the online resources and historical documents that have been compiled with support from about Transportation Research and Connectivity Pooled Fund Study Digitization Project (TPF-5(442) study were shared during the presentation.

Further information and photos of the NJDOT 2023 Annual Remembrance Ceremony can be found here.

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