Introducing the 2012 APA Award for Excellence Recipient: Alice Brand Bartlett, MLS, PhD

Alice Brand Bartlett is the recipient of APA's 2012 Excellence in Librarianship Award for her significant contributions to psychology and behavioral sciences librarianship.

Alice Brand BartlettSome careers seem to be born, not made, even if they wind as much as any river. Take Alice Brand Bartlett. When she was a child, she became obsessed with books — literally, with books as physical objects. She believed that once you owned the book, you also owned the ideas it contained, and she began her first collection.

From that early childhood, Alice recognized that she was animated by three things: a tremendous curiosity about the world, and especially the people in it; an analytical bent that made her want to understand not just the what but the why of things; and a belief that much of the information she sought was already available through other people's ideas, if she could only get access to it. Those traits led incrementally but inexorably to her career as a librarian, as a psychoanalyst, and as a driving force in creating and developing Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing (PEP) Web.

Alice has had a fascinating professional story, and even had an early connection with APA back in the early 1970s. While getting her master's in library science, she compared Medline to a new APA database based on Psychological Abstracts, PsycINFO. She was an early convert to seeing just how useful research databases could be, and over the years, she has trained, published, and advocated for online searching for mental health information in both her librarian and psychotherapist roles.

After obtaining her MLS from the University of Missouri at Columbia, Alice began her professional career in 1973 as director of the Missouri Institute of Psychiatry's Professional Library. In 1975 she made a pivotal move, becoming chief librarian of the Professional Library at the Menninger Clinic. By every account, the Menninger Library was something really special, and Alice was a big part of why.

As one of her nomination letters put it, "Dr. Bartlett oversaw the development of a collection that was widely extolled as one of the, if not the, preeminent psychiatric and psychoanalytic library in the world. More important, under her direction, the Menninger library was known for its well-trained, clinically savvy, resourceful, friendly, and helpful staff." Alice, more succinctly, simply described it as Camelot, and she remained there until the Clinic moved in 2001.

In 1979, she began the Menninger Professional Information Services, which offered online searching and document delivery to mental health professionals throughout the world. At the same time, she began training in individual and group psychotherapy at the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry and Mental Health Sciences. She was also accepted into the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis, and in the 1980s and 1990s attended two academic programs there, including their Adult Psychoanalysis program.

Over much of her career, she has straddled worlds, working both as a librarian and as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst. In both worlds, she remained keenly aware that there were no databases or thesauri that adequately covered the psychoanalytic literature.

In 1984 she and Lenora Kinzie published "A Comparison of Online Access to Psychoanalytic Literature" in Database, documenting the uneven indexing of psychoanalytic journals and the insufficient indexing terms for psychoanalytic concepts and urging the American Psychoanalytic Association's Committee on Indexing to consider creating their own index/database.

In 1991 she became a member of a group spearheaded by Dr. Paul Mosher to digitize and share the full text of psychoanalytic journals. Although that initiative ran into difficulties, a similar project was being undertaken at University College London that led, in 1996, to a new cooperative venture between the British and American Psychoanalytic Associations. That initiative led to the creation of PEP. After participating as the librarian consultant to the group, Alice became a member of the Board in 1998.

Are you familiar with PEP? It's a full-text archive that contains the complete text and illustrations of 46 premier journals in psychoanalysis (subject to a 3-year moratorium), 70 classic books, and the full text and Editorial notes of the 24 volumes of the Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud, as well as the 18-volume German Freud Standard Edition.

PEP has also undertaken some interesting new initiatives, such as last year providing $80,000 for a new journal and book author prize (determined by the download popularity of articles and books). Four hundred living authors (whose journal articles were published in the last 20 years) were awarded prizes, thereby promoting psychoanalytic scholarship. Alice has been a key player in its development: Her original research highlighting the need of adequate indexing in psychoanalytic research and her experience in collection development and online searching have been vital to shaping PEP.

Alice has long been an advocate for PEP, working on its advancement even while somehow making time to add both master's and a doctorate in psychology to her credentials and carry out a dizzying number of other activities as both a psychoanalyst and faculty member at several institutions.

If you are not aware of the PEP resource, please visit their homepage for more information.