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MIT Libraries Rewards and Recognition: 2006 Awards

2006 Infinite Mile Awards

See photos of recipients

Individual Awards

Innovation and Creativity: Lois Beattie

It has been said that creativity is a result of good work habits. This perfectly summarizes one of our colleagues, for whom work habits and creativity go hand in hand. This recipient brings an artistic eye, an experienced editorial pen and a willingness to explore the bounds to design in all of endeavors. And there are many endeavors! Have you ever wanted to add an audio component to your presentation? Maybe you want to create an interactive puzzle as an instructional tool? Or perhaps you want to find a way to use audio tools to bring more attention to your collection? This person has gracefully choreographed these dynamic and interactive exhibits that draw attention to the collections, projects and services of a particular library unit, as well as to the treasures throughout the MIT Libraries.  Stretching beyond regular duties, this individual has also contributed a creative flair in promoting the Libraries’ Honor with Books program. Students, faculty, administrators and even presidents have stopped to read her exhibits, and it’s not unusual for her unit to be contacted for further information about her displays. But you don’t have to walk the halls to find signs of this recipient’s creative touch; her web designs have made it to the MIT home page several times.  From the physics of baseball and Robert Richard’s field survey diary, to William Barton Roger’s 200th birthday celebration and Charter Day 2005; this person has found a way to showcase a collection that has a reputation for gathering dust! For carving the Libraries an artistic niche in the fabric of MIT, the Libraries’ 2006 Infinite Mile Award in the category of Innovation and Creativity goes to Lois Beattie.

Communication and Collaboration: Angela Locknar

Have you stood in front of a large group to present or to teach?  It is difficult for the best of us but in the words of one nominator this individual “can stand in front of a room of hundreds of people” and talk to them in a way that “holds their attention and makes them smile.” One of this staff member’s greatest accomplishments this year was successfully gaining entry into the curriculum of one of MIT’s “most vibrant first-year core courses”. The challenge of teaching several hundred freshmen in such a short period of time might have given a lesser person pause, but this recipient “doesn’t worry about challenges, or back away from them, but engages fully [and] gracefully.” This individual corralled seventeen librarians to lecture to twenty-seven recitation sections during an intensive one-day period in addition to organizing all of the details, writing the script and creating a web page for the class. The overwhelming success of this experience, along with the professor’s respect for this librarian’s professionalism and talents,  led to a D’Arbeloff grant for the Libraries and has established a collaboration that will utilize new technologies in the future of teaching. Never one to be selfish about personal talents, this individual has shared them, as well as her precious time, in mentoring and assisting others across the MIT Libraries. This librarian has assisted colleagues in developing course pages, has taken the time to “ease [a new librarian] into the world of instruction”, and has collaborated with librarians across the system in developing instruction plans for all of the MIT Libraries.  Her willingness to share her vision and her ability to garner buy-in from her colleagues throughout the system has been instrumental in creating an environment of instruction in the MIT Libraries. For her exceptional contributions to the Libraries’ instruction program, for helping to knit together the staffs of her two home libraries, and for her infectious team spirit the Libraries’ 2006 Infinite Mile Award in the category of Communication and Collaboration goes to Angela Locknar.

Results, Outcome and Productivity: Greg Padilla

Mens et Manus - "mind and hand". The laborer at the anvil and the scholar with a book depicted on the MIT seal represent the “earnest co-operation of intelligent culture with industrial pursuits." This recipient’s contributions testify to both intelligence and industry, while colleagues testify to generosity of character. This staff member, through “leadership, example, and job knowledge… (has) inspired, challenged, and helped develop” co-workers.  And, if that weren’t enough, he has even been called “super nice”. Dedicated to an unsung aspect of library work, this person does the work exceptionally well. Often early to work, and late to leave, this individual insists on completing tasks. Using available tools and creative intelligence, this wunderkind has created macros that make others’ jobs easier, system-wide, reducing keystrokes to a small fraction of the original number.  This staff member has not only made the workflows of fellow staffers more efficient, he has even made the macros more efficient -- they update themselves!  But this person is no corner-cutting layabout. As a matter of fact, you might want to draft this guy as a ringer for next year’s GetFit@MIT team.  He has done the most reshelving, at the fastest rate, in the unit with the highest volume of circulation. He does not shy away from the dirty work - literally dirty work.  When the collections of two libraries needed to be shifted - again - this person did 40% of it, amounting to 6,300 feet! That includes the dark, dusty, sometimes red-rotten journals in the Hayden basement. But maybe that’s overstating the dust. Some of it must have come off the old journals and shelves the previous year, when he barcoded a vast percentage of them, using some of his wonderful macros.  Oh, and he did that when he was a student worker. For his dedication to the collections and services of the Hayden Library and for developing tools that make our (work) lives a little easier and more efficient, the 2006 Infinite Mile Award in the category of Results, Outcome and Productivity goes to Greg Padilla.

Community: Stephen Skuce

We all know that it takes a great effort to keep a library running smoothly, and much of that effort occurs away from the eyes of the general public. The employees who keep the inner workings of the library churning are generally considered the “back room” folks. They are the ones who take our vast and diverse collections, and bring them together as a cohesive whole that may be accessed by computer anywhere in the world. Their work is seen and used by many but they often remain the “ghost in the machine”.  This individual has proven time and again that “back room” does not mean “back seat”. Through daily work and contributions to numerous committees, this person has made the Libraries a better place for staff as well as the patrons we serve.  One nominator describes this individual as “a big picture type” who is always looking for the best way to accomplish a task or project and thinking of what will work best for our users rather than what is easiest to do, personally or for the Libraries. “This individual is always questioning [personal] assumptions and asks the rest of us to do so as well.”  In the words of another nominator this colleague “excels in the ‘soft skills’ that make a workplace a place where I want to be:  positive communication, good listening, treating others with respect, mentoring and supporting colleagues, and recognizing the efforts of others in our organization. It's easy to forget any of these things in light of urgent priorities...and the constant pressures of change that we come up against --but [he] doesn't forget, and practices these things each day.  He's the kind of librarian that I want to be.” For his continual efforts to foster positive working relationships, his constant concern for what is best for our users, and his unending dedication to improving the accessibility of our collections, the Libraries’ 2006 Infinite Mile Award in the category of Community goes to Stephen Skuce.

Team Awards

Innovation and Creativity: ASK US! Central

You may remember the popular version of Archimedes' passage "Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and I will move the world." Well, the MIT Libraries are not the whole world but moving them is quite a feat. This team has found its place to stand and has successfully used technology and smarts to leverage staff expertise in building a twenty-first century service that creatively and efficiently serves our users. The knowledge of these team members encompasses many different subject areas, as well as circulation and processing services. Members have not only sharpened their expertise and shared their wisdom with colleagues, but have also familiarized themselves with subjects previously unknown to them. They use instant messaging to contact one another about a problem, to get help, or to start the referral process. These movers and shakers have mastered their primary technological lever. This team is extremely committed to providing high level service in a very timely fashion. While their service advertises next-day response, responses often come within minutes. This does not go unnoticed by patrons who often respond with "thanks for such a quick reply!"   The team's work is not without an element of risk: responses to patrons' questions are saved for all to see and comment on. While this was certainly something to get used to, the team has learned to appreciate constructive criticism and value the input of teammates. A group of librarians analyzed the work of the team last year to see if questions, which are sometimes quite complex, were being answered correctly. Such an analysis is noteworthy because it does not often happen in traditional reference.  The team was found to have a 95% accuracy rate. For their accuracy, their responsiveness and their work in creating and providing a top-notch quality service, the Libraries’ 2006 Infinite Mile Team Award in the category of Innovation and Creativity goes to ASK US! Central - Mary Ellen Carter, Peter Cohn, Darcy Duke, Millicent Gaskell, Remlee Green, Katie Harris, Jennifer Harter, Stephanie Hartman, Lisa Horowitz, Georgiana McReynolds, Anita Perkins, and Stephen Skuce.

Communication and Collaboration: Barker Service Team

Have you ever worked on a project that you secretly hoped someone else would get to first?  The kind of project that is so big that it seems like it will “die under its own weight”?  Well, when one ambitious group realized that they were up against one of these projects, they didn’t wait for others to take the lead. Instead, they strategically plotted the path of least resistance and have been chipping away at this mountain of work ever since! By first prioritizing the needs of colleagues, this team has been able to craft training sessions into digestible servings. They successfully involve the entire library in their laborious mission by recruiting the expertise of colleagues to draft documentation and then to teach their respective skills to the rest of the staff. In the words of one nominator, this team’s “spirit of collaboration is the reason why potentially dull training sessions are stress-free and actually fun!” They have ignored the skeptics who question whether 118 public service skills can really be called “core” and whether 118 competencies can actually be documented for use by service desk staff.  As a result, they have made enormous progress in developing accurate descriptions of procedures and services for staff members to utilize in effectively carrying out service desk responsibilities.  Though training sessions began only nine months ago, 96 of the 118 skills have already been documented, printed, hole-punched and organized into purple binders that were handed out in session one. And to the benefit of the public service staff throughout the Libraries, their documentation for each core competency lives on turnpike, just waiting to be adapted. For enthusiastically tackling core competency training and the quagmire that is documentation, the Libraries’ 2006 Infinite Mile Team Award in the category of Communication & Collaboration goes to the Barker Service Team - Tracy Gabridge, Stephanie Hartman, Denise O’Malley.

Results, Outcome and Productivity: Dewey Monograph Storage Team

Here is a scenario you may find familiar: Your library’s collection has outgrown its space. Stacks are overfilled and you had to designate overflow shelving, which is now full too. You start shelving on book trucks. Patrons can’t find books. You are facing a crisis.  But who will tackle the job? This team bravely stepped up to the challenge. They organized the project into stages and then, like an Olympic relay team, they worked together seamlessly to complete each leg of the race. The first team member determined retention parameters, generated holdings reports and spent months reviewing the reports to determine storage candidates. The “baton” was passed to another team member who coordinated the flagging of books and led the search initiative to locate missing items. This was no small task considering some 35,000 items were originally marked for transfer.  The next team member took off as soon as the flags were in sight, working as the primary coordinator for storage, training employees in proper procedures for sending books to the off campus collection, and using investigative skills to solve various problems that cropped up along the way. Another team member, in addition to providing assistance with searching and flagging, processed a significant number of the items for storage, keeping breakneck pace as the finish line came into sight. This team removed 33,000 volumes from the shelves – sending 30,000 volumes to storage and withdrawing another 3,000 from the collection. Their efforts made an enormous impact on their library. Their nominators said, “We have gone from totally overcrowded shelves...to stacks with some growth space.  Access to [collections on the second floor] has improved dramatically. It is also noteworthy that all this work was done in addition to [their] regular workload.” The gold medal and the Libraries’ 2006 Infinite Mile Team Award in the category of Results, Outcome and Productivity goes to the Dewey Monograph Storage Team - Elissa Derby, Robert Kehner and Amy Martin.

Community: Original Rewards and Recognition Design Team

You may not know or remember that we haven’t always had a day like this. A day set aside for celebrating our staff and recognizing the contributions of our peers. The Rewards and Recognition Program began in 2001. And every year since then, individuals and teams across the Libraries have been acknowledged and rewarded for “going the extra mile” as part of the Infinite Mile Program.  Besides the annual Infinite Mile Awards, the opportunity also exists for us to frequently thank our co-workers for their valuable contributions, using “thank you” notes that also serve as entries into the monthly Spot Award drawing. Some 10,000 “thank you’s” have been sent out and 240 names have been drawn for Spot Awards since that program began. The recognition process does not happen of its own accord. Each year a group of previous year Infinite Mile awardees take on the task of coordinating the coming year’s program – soliciting nominations, selecting awardees, planning the luncheon, and managing the spot drawings.  “Previous year awardees?” you say.  What then of the first year?  What of the “Big Bang” of the program? Once, after one of his lectures, Thomas Huxley was challenged by a woman who expressed her belief that, rather than spinning in space, the world rested on the back of a large turtle. Huxley asked where the turtle stood. She replied, “on the back of a larger turtle.” As Huxley began to question her further she said, “Oh, you can’t fool me. It’s turtles all the way down.” The foundation turtles of the Libraries’ R&R program is the small group who, beginning in the Fall of 2000, created the self-perpetuating process that helps us acknowledge the hard work and exceptional achievements of our peers, co-workers, and colleagues.  For creating an enduring, Institute-recognized program that continues to foster good will across the system, the Libraries’ 2006 Infinite Mile Team Award in the category of Community goes to the Original Rewards and Recognition Design Team – Robin Deadrick, Michael Leininger, Silvia Mejia-Suarez, and Christine Quirion.

FY06 Selection Committee:
Maria Rodrigues , Chair

Jim Eggleston
Cassandra Fox
Andrew Shea
Kevin Sheehan

2006 Infinite Mile Award Recipient Photos

Individual Awards


From left to right: Angela Locknar, Lois Beattie, Ann Wolpert, Greg Padilla, Stephen Skuce


Team Awards

Innovation and Creativity: Ask Us! Central

Jennifer Harter, Katie Harris, Peter Cohn, Mary Ellen Carter, Anita Perkins, Remlee Green, Lisa Horowitz, Stephen Skuce, Georgiana McReynolds, Millicent Gaskell, and Stephanie Hartman. (Not present: Darcy Duke.

Communication and Collaboration: Barker Service Team

Tracy Gabridge, Stephanie Hartman, Denise O’Malley.

Results, Outcomes, and Productivity: Dewey Monograph Storage Team

Elissa Derby, Robert Kehner and Amy Martin.

Community: Original Rewards and Recognition Design Team

Christine Quirion, Michael Leininger, Ann Wolpert, Robin Deadrick, and Silvia Mejia-Suarez

 

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