2003 – Rhonda K. Lawrence

The Technical Services Special Interest Section is pleased to announce the awarding of the Renee D. Chapman Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions in Technical Services Law Librarianship to Rhonda K. Lawrence, Head of Cataloging at the UCLA School of Law, Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library.

Rhonda is an expert educator in the specialized world of law cataloging and an active member of AALL and the Technical Services SIS.

Her many contributions to the field include:

  • Co-author of all three editions of Cataloging Legal Literature.
  • Primary author of “Module 34 for legal serials” for the CONSER Cataloging Manual.
  • Serving as AALL representative to the ALA’s ALCTS/MARBI committee.
  • Faculty member for the 1992 Santa Clara Cataloging Institute.
  • Faculty member for several 2-3 day serials cataloging workshops for CONSER Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program.
  • Speaker for many AALL Annual meeting programs.
  • Chair of AALL’s Publications Review Committee, 1992-1993.
  • Active member of the TS-SIS and the OBS-SIS.

She has been an exceptional example of the extended and sustained distinguished service this award recognizes.

The Renee D. Chapman Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions in Technical Services Law Librarianship is presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries. It is given to an individual or group in recognition of achievement in an area of technical services, for services to the Association, or for outstanding contributions to the professional literature.

The award will be made at the Technical Services SIS business meeting, Sunday July 13, 2003. Please join with the SIS in honoring Rhonda Lawrence.

Elizabeth Geesey Holmes
Chair, TS-SIS Awards committee

*Photograph taken July 13, 2003 during AALL Annual Meeting.


.Many moons ago Rhonda Lawrence became a law cataloger. I shouldn’t say specifically how many moons because sometimes she’s sensitive about years and age, but it was 20! She obviously started UCLA Library School as an infant! She has been Head of Cataloging at UCLA School of Law Library since 1994. Unfortunately, Arthur Rosett, Rhonda’s UCLA Law professor husband, is recovering from pneumonia and couldn’t be here with her.

Rhonda had various and sundry positions prior to finding her calling as a law librarian, one of them was as an English teacher. It was propitious that she brought her writing skills to LA County Law Library. Peter Enyingi and I had been collecting materials, arguing about AACR2, and talking about writing a cataloging manual, but to this day I don’t know if Cataloging Legal Literature would have happened if Rhonda hadn’t arrived. Besides surviving 3 editions of Cataloging Legal Literature, (and I do mean surviving…we used to sit and make lists of all the things that would happen while we were trying to get an edition together: her house was severely earthquake-damaged and her foot was injured in a car crash to mention just a couple of examples!) Rhonda was a co-editor of the Description and Entry column in Technical Services Law Librarian for many years. Rhonda also completed Module 34 on “Legal Serials” for the CONSER Cataloging manual at the same time she was the AALL MARBI rep. As our representative she lobbied for some of the changes that we’re learning now: for example, how to code for loose-leaf publications. Rhonda has been a speaker on various AALL programs, but her most recent teaching “gigs” have been as a CONSER Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program trainer and a speaker at the ALA ALCTS AACR2 2002 and 2003 institutes.

Rhonda’s accomplishments exemplify characteristics and behaviors shared with Renee Chapman: eagerness to learn new things and share that knowledge. Her challenging and important activities have kept Rhonda interested in law cataloging and benefitted all of us. Like Renee she’s also a very nice person.

Other Rhonda characteristics: she has a great soprano voice, and is a wonderful hostess and traveling companion. She loves the color blue, shopping and chocolate. And she’s not afraid to speak her mind. All characteristics that I appreciate! Well, except for that blue preference.

Rhonda’s parents are very proud of her accomplishments. They regret that they could not be here today to share this moment with her. Rhonda also loves flowers, and this bouquet is given by her parents as a token of their appreciation. In addition to the flowers, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence have made a $1000 contribution to the AALL Scholarship Fund in Rhonda’s name.

Rhonda could you come forward please: (as I hum “Help me Rhonda” by the Beach Boys)
“Well, Rhonda, you caught my eye, and ” I’ve given you “lots of reasons why, you gotta help” us Rhonda, help us get cataloging done… You did. You helped us all, Rhonda. It is my pleasure to present to you the Technical Services Special Interest Section Renee D. Chapman Award.

Presented at the 2003 AALL Annual Meeting in Seattle by Melody Lembke.


Melody, I feel as though you and my parents engaged in a conspiracy! But what a nice surprise and honor. My father is a master gardener, so the flowers that you brought from Pikes Market are very appropriate. And the scholarship donation that they arranged with your help is certainly a wonderful tribute.

Those of you who know me no doubt devotedly wish that I would say that I was speechless after receiving this award [Rhonda draws out a folded, multi-paged speech from behind her jacket], but that wouldn’t be me and I do have a few words to say.

As Jack Benny said “I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.

First, I want to thank to Elizabeth Geesey Holmes, Chair, and the other members of the TS-SIS Awards and Grants 2002-2003 Committee for selecting me as this year’s recipient of the Renee D. Chapman Memorial award. I also want to thank the TS SIS Board members for their support as well. There are many talented, and hardworking members of this Section who are as deserving, if not more so, and the Committee had a difficult choice. I am very honored to receive this award, and am joining a very distinguished roster of Chapman award winners. But in case any of you are worried that I will become even more difficult after receiving this award, to paraphrase Fran Lebowitz, “Success won’t spoil me, I’ve always been insufferable.

This award has special meaning for me in part because I had the pleasure of knowing Renee. As a new member of AALL in 1984, I first met her while she was the Head Cataloging Librarian at the University of Iowa Law Library. We immediately hit it off as we exchanged stories about life in an midwestern college town just south of where I had attended high school.

The summer before she was tragically killed, as we sat eating ice cream sundaes in a replica of a small town ice cream parlor inexplicitly located in our Reno, Nevada Casino convention hotel (that was a major AALL programmatic site selection error) and talked about cataloging, Renee announced that she needed to get me more involved in AALL. Her comment stayed with me over the years-it was so supportive and I was flattered by her attention and her confidence in my abilities. Her early death came as a shock to all of us who had enjoyed her capable and cheerful life-Renee was such a generous and caring person. I only hope that I too will encourage others in their careers as she did in mine.

In addition to Renee, I am grateful to many other people for their encouragement and support over the years.

Luck has always played a great part in my career. In 1982 I was fortunate to interview Richard Iamele, Director of the Los Angeles County Law Library, for a law librarianship class assignment at a time when there had been a long-term cataloging vacancy in the library, which he then asked me to apply for even after speaking to my instructor, Frank Houdek.

I was then very lucky to begin working with two renowned law catalogers, Peter Enyingi and Melody Lembke-both previous Chapman Award recipients-who needed a third person to help organize and edit a new law cataloging manual that they had long planned to develop.

I was even luckier to discover that I could indeed translate both Hungarian English syntax and Indiana native speech patterns into American cataloging jargon, and was also able to negotiate cataloging disputes when co-author hostilities erupted between the Hungarian and Indiana borders. Melody and Peter provided me with a tremendous education in law cataloging, and I am eternally indebted to them both. In particular I am thankful to Melody for her support in nominating me (again! and again!) for this award.

A few years later I was blessed because several previous candidates for a UCLA Law Library cataloging position requiring Chinese language skills did not satisfy the law faculty member specializing in Chinese law, so the search for a UCLA law cataloger was expanded from “requiring” to “preferring” a candidate with those language skills. To this day Kate Pecarovich still calls me the Chinese law cataloger. No doubt it was a coincidence, but that law faculty member left shortly after I was hired.

Two UCLA Law Library Heads of Technical Services, first Adrienne Adan and then Kate, have demonstrated extraordinary patience with the many hours I have devoted to professional activities, and for their support and friendship I have been lucky as well.

In 1994 I was lucky that Ron Watson, a UCLA serials cataloger whom I had known in library school had helped to establish the CONSER program. He was a great friend of Jean Hirons, who as the CONSER coordinator was looking for a law cataloger to write a chapter on cataloging legal serials for the CONSER Cataloging Manual. And lucky for me, Ann Sitkin and John Hostage of the Harvard Law Library helped me to complete the module when it was too long in development.

And once again I was lucky in 1995 when Phyllis Post became pregnant and I was tapped to replace her as the AALL liaison to the MARBI meetings. And I was lucky again last year when Sally Tseng, a Southern California serials cataloger who was organizing the ALA ALCTS AACR2 2002 regional cataloging institutes, asked me to join the ALCTS faculty to talk about the original integrating resource, updating loose-leafs.

Finally, I have been lucky in my last choice of husbands. Arthur Rosett, who hates to eat alone, has endured far too many solitary meals over the years as I have worked late on various projects. I am most thankful for his ongoing support of and respect for my achievements.

Now after listening to my tales of great good fortune, some of you may feel that I am not deserving of this award and may want me to return it. But I’m hoping that my luck will hold just a little longer, and that I will be allowed to leave tonight with this plaque still in my hands. In any case, I am not giving it back!

Thank you all again, I am very honored to receive this award.