Sara Benson (MSLIS '17), affiliate associate professor at the iSchool, has been recognized with the Campus Excellence in Public Engagement Faculty & Staff - Emerging Award for her wide-ranging work in helping people understand the intricacies of copyright.
Benson serves as the University Library's copyright librarian, but her efforts extend far beyond campus and its academic personnel. She has appeared before the U.S. Copyright Office, advised Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, worked on international copyright matters, reached thousands with her Copyright Chat podcast and YouTube channel, and advocated for and protected librarians across the nation through her invitation-only role as a member of the American Library Association Policy Corps.
As both a librarian and a lawyer, Benson is particularly suited to grapple with how to use copyrighted materials and, in turn, how to protect items individuals may create. Her expertise was especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, when educators transferred their instructional materials to an online setting.
Benson has also delved into open educational resources, helping to reduce the costs of textbooks for college students; instigated the annual Fair Use Gameshow to teach people about copyright; and boosted the University of Illinois’ reputation as a leader in copyright education.
The recipient of the Library's Outstanding Public Engagement Award in 2022, Benson was honored for her most recent recognition at a May 30 campus reception. She also received a commemorative plaque and a $2,000 honorarium for personal use.