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MIT Libraries Rewards and Recognition: 2009 Awards

2009 Infinite Mile Awards

See photos of recipients

Individual Awards

Communication and Collaboration: Clayton Hainsworth

Nominators describe him as “the lynchpin of the organization”, “the one person who is connected to everything and everyone”, “the essential resource”, “an amazing collaborator”, “a tightrope artist” and, “a mind reader”.

Academic Media Production Services provides a myriad of services in support of MIT programs -- video productions, distance education services, teleconferences, and webcasts. And this individual is involved in every facet of these operations. Solving complex problems, coordinating staff and resources with client needs, and synchronizing with partner universities on the other side of the globe are all in a day’s (and night’s) work for this person.

This individual is the public persona of service. Described as “completely on his game in terms of technology, services, and smart solutions”, he educates clients about AMPS services. He figures out what they need, often with obscure information and on short notice. (That’s when the mind reading skills are useful.) He plots logistics, coordinates with service units, and guides projects from beginning to end, creating successful outcomes for the client.

He is the liaison to Institute providers such as OCW, MIT World, MIT Cable and Conference Services. He is also the point person for the MIT MediaLink radio service which provides media outlets worldwide with access to MIT researchers. And, if all that weren’t enough, in addition to his day job, he provides backup support for the Video Production and Distance Education groups, helping to create seamless support for clients. His dedication to that service often has him working long and strange hours to coordinate with partner universities in Singapore.

He has fostered a positive team environment within AMPS and established excellent working relationships with clientele throughout MIT. Somehow he manages to maintain his good humor and unflappable disposition in all his interactions.

For his dedication and commitment to providing the highest quality products and services; for the energy and determination he brings to his work; and for his outstanding leadership by deed and example, the Libraries 2009 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Communication and Collaboration, goes to Clayton Hainsworth.

 

Innovation and Creativity: Patsy Baudoin

This award recipient’s accomplishments match the category criteria just perfectly.

  • Articulates vision: check!
  • Develops effective strategies: exactly!
  • Exhibits resourcefulness in response to challenge: sure thing!
  • Uses time and resources economically: absolutely!
  • Facilitates others' use of time and resources: in the extreme!
  • Enhances customer service and experience: you betcha!

There once was a set of library materials that was notoriously difficult to browse in Barton. The recent growth of this collection, compliments of a very generous donor, heightened the importance of enhancing users’ ability to browse and access these materials.

At the same time, a goal of the divisional library that housed this collection was to make use of social networking software as another way to build relationships with the MIT community.

Happily, a champion came to the rescue. She saw the convergence of these two goals as an exciting opportunity. She explored her idea, investigated software and developed a project that would exploit Delicious in making the aforementioned collection more searchable and accessible.

This librarian articulated a vision and used that vision to engage students and provide leadership to the project. Together with the three students she hired they set parameters for the tagging the Humanities Library DVD film collection and then she turned them loose, with limited guidance and limited resources and limitless creativity. She collaborated with them to develop and present an IAP course that drew attention to the collection. And in the spring semester, the site was made available to the MIT community. The service lives on the Libraries’ Beta page, where its usefulness and growth will be monitored.

For her innovation and leadership in the creative use of social bookmarking as a means to improve browsing tools for the Libraries’ film collection, the Libraries’ 2009 Individual Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Innovation and Creativity, goes to Patsy Baudoin.

 

Results, Outcome and Productivity: Elissa Derby

“She did one hell of a job!” This singular line was used to describe the accomplishments of our next recipient and, although accurate, the statement still doesn’t seem to do her justice.

We all know that Dewey Library is undergoing major renovations while continuing to “remain open and operating as usual”. As a result many decisions needed to be made regarding the collections: Which items would stay on-site? Which items would go to storage? How could shelving be rearranged to keep the most items on-site during renovations? Where will everything be located on-site…shelf-by-shelf?!

Answering these questions, as well as many others required hours of planning, measuring, calculating, communicating, and on-the-fly problem-solving. This is the type of project that would normally fall to a committee or team…or small but well-trained army. But in Dewey, one person volunteered…yeah, that’s right…volunteered to take on these responsibilities single-handedly.

Described as “incredibly organized, self-motivated and deadline driven”, this individual was said to have gone “above and beyond expectations to get the job done and get it done right.” “Above and beyond” included the aforementioned measuring, re-measuring, adjusting hundreds of shelves, keeping Dewey staff informed, creating new signage daily, some more measuring, communicating with Tech Ops and CAMS to ensure proper Barton updates, just a little bit more measuring, coordinating with LSA and creating detailed instructions for the movers. She even gave the movers her home phone number, just in case they ran into problems when they came in at 5:00 am. And yes, they called. And yes, she solved their problems. (Perhaps we should be giving her the Purple Heart!)

In addition to this major undertaking she continued to manage stack operations, pull BookPages, conduct searches for missing books and carry out all of her other circulation duties without missing a beat. One nominator said that “her efficiency, organizational skills and old-fashioned work ethic meant that many of us had no concept of exactly how much she was doing.”

For all the aforementioned work, and all the work we don’t even know about, the Libraries’ 2009 Infinite Mile Award in the category of Results, Outcome and Productivity, goes to Elissa Derby.

 

Unsung Hero: Jim Eggleston

According to wiktionary.org, an Unsung Hero is one who does great deeds but receives little or no recognition for them.  This may have been the case, but is no longer for this year’s recipient of the Unsung Hero award. 

Over the years, this nominee has transitioned through many roles and departments in the Libraries. Through it all, he has kept an outstanding work ethic and has remained a valuable co-worker who goes about his work without drawing attention to himself. 

He never says no. He shows versatility and a willingness to do whatever the Libraries ask of him.  He has even been known to lug equipment to the nether regions of the MIT campus. 

He finds a way to turn potentially disruptive and stressful situations into positive experiences for his colleagues. And, in addition to understanding and compassion, he has even been known to offer up chocolate when someone is having a bad day.

Nominators wrote glowingly about this award recipient:

  • “I am hoping this behind the scenes magician can enjoy a moment in the spotlight.”
  • “[He] is technologically gifted, but still manages to find a way to speak in laymen’s terms, so that what is being explained is clear and understandable.” 
  •  “Computers are such a huge part of our work now and when they fail us, it is so comforting to know that [he] is gonna ride in and save the day.” 

He is the very definition of unsung hero.

For the consistent and high quality service he provides, for always going above and beyond to solve a problem, for being an invaluable resource to the MIT Libraries, and for doing all this with charm and humor, the Libraries' 2009 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Unsung Hero, goes to Jim Eggleston.

Team Awards

Community: Booksale Team

This award acknowledges and pays tribute to a dedicated and hard-working team. It recognizes an effort that takes a great deal of planning, organization, energy, and even brawn.

Those of us in the Libraries probably think of this undertaking as something that benefits the library system. However, this venture creates a tremendous buzz in the greater MIT community as well, that begins as soon as the advance publicity goes out. Over the years, these events have brought countless members of the MIT community countless hours of reading pleasure.

There is a small team that has been responsible for these well-choreographed events year after year. In advance, the team coordinates a myriad of logistics, prepares materials, enlists numerous volunteers and advertises the event to the community. Then, on the day of the event, scores of cartons of books that have been sorted and priced are stacked onto 2- and 4-wheel dollies and trundled to the advertised site. There they are spread out onto 15-20 tables that are labeled according to subject. The doors open, the crowd descends and the browsing begins. An organized band of library volunteers participate in cashiering, bagging, and, afterwards of course, cleanup.

The benefits of these events have been widespread. The Libraries’ presence in the community has been increased and enhanced. “Book-reading and book-collecting sorts” in the MIT community have delighted in browsing used books and purchasing them at bargain prices. Library staff who have volunteered to assist with these events have enjoyed the team effort and have signed up regularly to help. And, proceeds from the events have funded some of the Libraries’ preservation work.

For their efforts in organizing and running the MIT Libraries booksales for all these years, the Libraries’ 2009 Infinite Mile Team Award, in the category of Community, goes to the Booksale Team: Charlene Follett and Betsy Granese.

 

Community: Puzzle Team

Nerds love puzzles. Libraries love nerds.

Building on these two truths, the MIT Libraries have boldly gone where no promotional blitz has gone before…puzzles. Not just any puzzles, mind you, but puzzles created for MIT nerds by a (professed and proud) MIT nerd in the MIT Libraries. These puzzles create an incredible buzz amongst library patrons. How often can the Libraries say that?!

Beyond the hype and hysteria these puzzle challenges also serve as a great way to promote the many services and resources of the MIT Libraries by using the revered tradition of puzzle solving within the student community. One nominator said: “Puzzles have such a strong appeal to MIT students and requiring the use of library resources to solve them has provided a unique opportunity for outreach to our community.”

The puzzles have been (and continue to be) a great success, with broad participation and anticipation from the students, all of whom are on the look-out for the next installment of the puzzle challenge.

The program has done much to advance the Libraries’ mission to “promote discovery and facilitate worldwide scholarly communication” through its creative (but devious!) method of teaching students about the information seeking skills and tools they need, all cleverly disguised as a fun challenge. What they don’t know won’t hurt them, right?!

Despite the enjoyable outcome, things aren’t all fun and games for this group. In addition to creating—from scratch—all of these puzzles, the group is also responsible for mass marketing campaigns to promote each new puzzle as well as coordinating with other departments who are involved. One such example required patrons to use the new LSA Article Delivery service to obtain a necessary clue for solving one of the puzzles.

For their creative efforts to keep the MIT Community entertained, challenged, educated and informed, the Libraries' 2009 Infinite Mile Team Award, in the category of Community, goes to the Puzzle Team: Heather Denny, Stephanie Hartman, Mark Szarko and Mathew Willmott.

 

Innovation and Creativity: LSA Article Delivery Team

Imagine:  a patron comes to the library service desk and says, “I’m looking for a journal but I can’t find it in the stacks, can you help me?”  You look up the journal and respond “That journal is stored at the Library Storage Annex. We can request it for you and it will be delivered tomorrow, or you can call the Annex to arrange a visit to their facility -- near Central Square.”  First a blank stare and then the response, “Never mind.”

In typical MIT library fashion, a team of tenacious individuals set out to solve this problem in order to better serve our users. This project was not an easy. This project required manipulating multiple programs and finding ways for these programs to interact with each other.  And this project was realized by a group that had to jump over numerous hurdles.

The team was not daunted by the challenge of analyzing and improving an extremely cumbersome and time consuming process that involved at least six separate steps, four different systems, and library staff in several different units just to create a journal request for a user. From this tangled mess, the team created a system, available via “Your Account”, that allows for the easy routing of journal requests between the Annex and Document Services. The system seamlessly checks our holdings via SFX so that users have only to enter the article information and page numbers to initiate the request and receive the article electronically.  End of blank stares.
 
One nominator stated, “I know from experience how pleased users are when they magically receive the article they need via email without ever having to leave the comfort of home. This project and the service it created is a great example of how innovation and creativity can improve the user experience.”

For creating an outstanding service that improves our users’ experience, the Libraries' 2009 Infinite Mile Team Award, in the category of Innovation and Creativity, goes to the LSA Article Delivery Team:  Steve Barkley, Melissa Feiden, Christine Moulen, Christine Quirion, Rich Wenger and Mathew Willmott.

 

Results, Outcome and Productivity: Archivists’ Toolkit Implementation Team

The Institute Archives and Special Collections is home to millions of pages of documents, housed in over 20,000 boxes, contained in over 1,200 collections. It is one of MIT’s hidden gems -- but not for long!

Management of the collections has long relied on a variety of paper-based systems and stand-alone databases. For years the Archives has sorely needed an automated, integrated collection management system.  And, last year, this group of staff provided the long-overdue solution. 

After a thorough analysis of the options, the team chose a product, tested the software, customized the system for local processes and workflows, set it up, and put it into production.  They accomplished the daunting and complex task of replacing a manual workflow with a fully automated one -- smoothly and right on schedule.

This integrated system, the Archivists’ Toolkit, now has over 800 collection-level records with over 3000 subjects. Information can be exported in a variety of formats.  And for the first time, finding aids are available on the web. For researchers worldwide, the impact cannot be overstated. And -- no exaggeration – the Toolkit has revolutionized Archives’ operations, enabling staff to do its work with improved standards, efficiency, and productivity. The knowledge gained during this implementation has also proven valuable for DOME and other digital initiatives in the Libraries. 

One nominator said, “I cannot emphasize enough how truly important this initiative has been and how much it will change the work of the Archives … The team’s thoughtful analysis of the system, the careful preparation, and dedicated hard work … in getting [it] up and running and into production mode is truly a worklife-changing experience.”

For the smooth implementation of a system which will help researchers everywhere take advantage of the Archives’ outstanding collections, and for propelling the Archives out of the 19th century and into the 21st, the 2009 Infinite Mile Team Award, in the category of Results, Outcome and Productivity, goes to the Archivists’ Toolkit Implementation Team:  Liz Andrews, Lois Beattie, Olimpia Caceres-Brown, Carl Jones, and Mikki Macdonald.

 

 

FY09 Selection Committee:
Anita Perkins, Chair
Charlene Follett
Jeremiah Graves
Christie Moore
Jenn Morris

2009 Infinite Mile Award Recipient Photos

Individual Awards


Jim Eggleston, Elissa Derby, Patsy Baudoin, Ann Wolpert


Team Awards

Community: Booksale Team

Betsy Granese, Charlene Follett, Ann Wolpert

Community: Puzzle Team

Heather Denny, Mark Szarko, Stephanie Hartman, Mathew Willmott, Ann Wolpert

Innovation and Creativity: LSA Article Delivery Team

Rich Wenger, Christine Quirion, Christine Moulen, Melissa Feiden, Mathew Willmott, Ann Wolpert, Steve Barkley

Results, Outcomes, and Productivity: Archivists' Toolkit Implementation Team

Olimpia Caceres-Brown, Carl Jones, Liz Andrews, Mikki Macdonald, Ann Wolpert [absent: Lois Beattie]

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