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MIT Libraries Rewards and Recognition: 2010 Awards

2010 Infinite Mile Awards

See photos of recipients

Individual Awards

Communication and Collaboration: Cassandra Fox

Describing the achievements of this Infinite Mile award recipient would easily take us well past lunch today. As one nominator put it, “the sheer volume of projects she’s worked on recently is a testament to how capable and valuable she is.”

She has led communication efforts for both users and staff on an incredibly diverse list of projects. She is frequently cited by her colleagues as an extraordinarily adept communicator, with a gift for pulling together different opinions from a group and synthesizing them into a seamless whole. She was crucial in the implementation of Touchstone, which provided users with easier access to library resources. She has worked tirelessly with the Boston Library Consortium’s Unmediated Borrowing Task Force, testing numerous systems and serving as a link between our staff and those at Aleph and OCLC. The amount of circulation documentation she has created for the public services wiki was described by one nominator as “Bunyanesque” – as virtual forests of information have been cleared and made accessible for our staff, resulting in faster and more efficient service for our users. Her formidable talents are such that another nominator concluded that “as soon as I know that she is involved in an activity I feel like there is nothing to worry about.”

For her tireless communication efforts on projects that have probably touched nearly every operational aspect of our day-to-day lives, the Libraries 2010 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Communication and Collaboration, goes to Cassandra Fox.


Community: Peter Munstedt

“Fearless leader.” “Visionary.” “Diplomat and ambassador.” “Jedi Master.” These are just some of the titles the nominators of this individual chose to bestow upon him in citing his many contributions to the MIT community.

This individual has worked tirelessly to make the library an integral part of the faculty, staff and student body’s work/life balance. From a rich variety of scores, sheet music, CDs, and books to streaming audio collections and iPods, this individual has built a collection of materials that musicians of all stripes depend on to make their art. From musician look-alike contests to concerts showcasing a variety of talent and musical styles, the library under his watch has grown into a place where the community can both relax and learn about music. His commitment to preserving the legacy of MIT’s rich musical heritage has resulted in projects as diverse as digitizing various MIT Symphony Orchestra recordings and the Music at MIT Oral History Project. His tireless efforts led to the complete renovation of the Music Library, providing what one nominator described as “an inviting place of refuge for students to relax and get away from MIT’s dreaded P-sets.” Faculty members cite his contributions to the Libraries as one of the primary reasons they have chosen to call MIT their professional home.

For his extraordinary vision in making the Rosalind Denny Lewis Music Library a central place in the MIT community to learn about, share, and perform music in all its forms, the Libraries 2010 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Community, goes to Peter Munstedt.


Innovation and Creativity : Roshni Gohil

This recipient personifies the definition of creativity. She can look at what everyone else sees and see something new and completely different.

The energy, breadth of interests, and fresh thinking that this individual brings to nearly every endeavor evoked great admiration in the eyes of those who nominated her. Although not every project may be the most glamorous, she tackles them with energy and enthusiasm, often achieving results when others have given up. In inventorying the Barker collection, she took a good process that was initiated in Hayden and reworked it to suit a new context. She wasn’t afraid to use an iterative method to make it work—devise a concept, try it out, and make changes based on the results. Her work on a system to allow library users to register for classes demonstrates similar skills, as she gathered data on several platforms, devised criteria to evaluate them, tested them rigorously, and made a recommendation to the User Interface Group. Her work to create the basic requirements of the online student employment form was the result of robust communication with student supervisors across the Libraries and her extraordinary talent for seeing an old problem with a fresh set of eyes. One of her nominators described working on the same team as this individual as “an honor,” a sentiment echoed in numerous testimonials from her peers.

For her tireless efforts to apply her creative talents to improve almost every workflow and process she encounters, the Libraries 2010 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Innovation and Creativity, goes to Roshni Gohil.


Unsung Hero: William de Figueiredo

The recipient of this year’s Unsung Hero award gives new meaning to the expression “going above and beyond the call of duty.”

This individual’s responsibilities include maintaining a very complex technological infrastructure that allows the Academic Media Production Services Distance Education and Streaming Operations group to provide video conferencing and streaming media to MIT users around the globe 24/7. Any disruption to this equipment means downtime to the organization and, even more critical, a potential loss to our students as their grades — or even degrees — hang in the balance. Fortunately, this “veritable superman,” as he is known to his colleagues, is more than up to the challenge.

He is instrumental in keeping a variegated collection of equipment running at peak levels. He created a new strategic plan that greatly improved services for the user while simultaneously making work easier for his colleagues. He routinely coordinates with his colleagues in Singapore for the SMA program, no mean feat with a 12 hour time difference. His dedication is such that he has even been known to respond to emergency situations while on sick leave or vacation. On one occasion, he took time out of a road trip to find a café with internet access so he could trouble-shoot a problem. As his nominator concluded, “we would be lost” without him.

For his outstanding and selfless work on behalf of the MIT community and in advancing the Institute’s mission of employing the best of educational technology, the Libraries 2010 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Unsung Hero, goes to William de Figueiredo.

Team Awards

Communication and Collaboration: Reorganization Project Planning Team

Navigating change is never without its challenges. Over the past several months, the recipients of this award have helped the MIT Libraries navigate through great change with incredible skill, grace, dedication, and good spirits.

While we are all responsible for the reorganization currently under way, this group has provided us with the road map to keep us focused and on task. Faced with tight deadlines, the team has demonstrated incredible organizational skills by taking a highly complex process with many parts and transforming it into a discrete list of deliverables. Their weekly communications have kept staff in the loop, and brought a level of both clarity and transparency to the process. Even when there has been little to report (and those days are admittedly few), they have still taken the time to check in, reminding us that no, we haven’t missed anything.

They have done all of this while still performing their regular duties, even though this project has required them to meet several times a week, often daily. Despite the enormous demands on their schedules, none of their regular duties have suffered as a result. One nominator expressed relief that their efforts were only for a short-term project, as “no one can be expected to keep up this level of work for the long run!”

In appreciation of their herculean efforts in supporting our current reorganization process, the Libraries 2010 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Communication and Collaboration, goes to the Reorganization Project Planning Team: Robin Deadrick, Tracy Gabridge, and Millicent Gaskell.


Communication and Collaboration: Branch Incorporation Team

“Closing a library is no small feat. Closing two libraries at the same time is nothing short of daunting. Doing all of the physical work in three months in phenomenal,” wrote one nominator. Phenomenal may even be an understatement considering the number of items these team members individually boxed, shifted, shelved, and handled.

On the heels of the announcement of branch closings last summer, plans were quickly laid for incorporation of the collections, and then the physical processing began. The collections from Lindgren and Aero/Astro Libraries had to be transferred or withdrawn - meaning tens of thousands of items needed to be prepared and moved in a matter of only three months. The Hayden Library launched into a storage project and quickly shifted collections in preparation for more than 56,000 incoming items. Meanwhile at Barker, staff and students shifted all their stacks in 3 days to incorporate materials assigned to their library. At the Library Storage Annex, nearly the entire collection had to be shifted so staff could tackle the task of shelving the massive amount of items sent their way.

Of course during all this shifting and shelving, there were snags. Uncatalogued collections had to handled, items with odd statuses had to be cleaned up and various other mysteries required investigation.

One nominator wrote, “While it’s true that many minds were needed to make this project a success, especially given the tight timeline, these people were the troops on the ground. They did not make the high level decisions, but they worked tirelessly to enact them and communicated with all the parties involved, asking questions and providing updates on a near daily basis. This work was not glamorous but they completed it with real star quality.” For this impressive accomplishment, the team award for Results, Outcome and Productivity goes to the Branch Incorporation Team: Moses Carr, Melissa Feiden, Roshni Gohil, Jeremiah Graves, Nik Gulacsik, Joe Hankins, Harolyn Hylton, Peter Norman, Greg Padilla, Bethanie Pinkus, Maria Rodrigues, and Matthew VanSleet.


Community: Maihaugen Gallery Exhibit Committee & Support

Working at MIT often means the bar is set pretty high in terms of expectations. This next group not only sets the bar high, but exceeds it with each successive project, breaking new ground in the process.

With the opening of the Maihaugen Gallery in the spring of 2008, the MIT Libraries finally acquired a secure, state-of-the-art exhibit space to showcase some of the many treasures within our collections. However, such a space means little without compelling exhibits to draw people inside, and this group tackled the challenge with great skill and vision. They have managed to find ways not only to highlight materials from within our collections, but also to link the Libraries very directly with the current research interests at MIT, bringing faculty, alumni, and donors into the process. These exhibits have led to other events that include faculty lectures and concerts, and have also provided new avenues to honor donors past and present. The material in the exhibits has raised the visibility of the MIT Libraries to our community of users immeasurably.

For continually increasing the visibility of the Maihaugen Gallery by producing compelling and relevant exhibits that reach beyond the MIT Libraries to involve faculty, alumni, and donors, the Libraries 2010 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Community, goes to the Maihaugen Gallery Exhibit Committee: Michelle Baildon, Heather Denny, Jennifer Friedman, Stephanie Hartman, Nora Murphy, Nancy Schrock, Stephen Skuce, and Shalini Patel.


Results, Outcome and Productivity: Survey Data Dissemination Team

Every three years, the Libraries open the user feedback floodgates with a campus-wide survey. The most recent survey gathered nearly 7500 user responses about Library services, collections, facilities and priorities. Such a wealth of data represents huge potential for shaping the work and concerns of the MIT Libraries, but first the data must be sorted, edited to protect privacy, reviewed, and coded. Luckily, there was a team ready to take on this challenge.

The team not only organized the mountain of data, but constructed a codebook to accompany the thousands of comments collected. During their trudge through varied comments, the team thoroughly documented their methodology, provided technical notes, and produced several files of data to aid future analysis and use. They also kept the staff informed as they worked. As one nominator wrote, “In addition to pulling together and analyzing data, this team did an incredible job of communicating with the library staff about their work.” They hosted multiple help sessions and made themselves available to anyone wishing to use the data, and even included caveats for the interpretation of the numbers. This organization and clarification continues to provide accessible data to all library staff.

For their work in turning an overwhelming amount of data into manageable and useful information for all library staff, the team award for Results, Outcome and Productivity goes to the Survey Data Dissemination Team: Melissa Feiden, Lisa Horowitz, Erja Kajosalo, Heather McCann, Kate McNeill, and Mark Szarko.



FY10 Selection Committee:
Stephanie Hartman, Chair
Olimpia Caceres-Brown
Elissa Derby
Mikki Macdonald
Mark Szarko

2010 Infinite Mile Award Recipient Photos

Individual Awards

Ann Wolpert, William de Figueiredo, Cassandra Fox, Peter Munstedt [absent: Roshni Gohil]

Team Awards

Communication and Collaboration: Reorganization Project Planning Team

Ann Wolpert, Tracy Gabridge, Robin Deadrick, Millicent Gaskell

Communication and Collaboration: Branch Incorporation Team

Front L to R: Ann Wolpert, Nik Gulacsik, Matthew VanSleet, Greg Padilla, Joe Hankins, Maria Rodrigues, Bethanie Pinkus. Back L to R: Moses Carr, Jeremiah Graves, Melissa Feiden. Not included: Harolyn Hylton, Roshni Gohil, Peter Norman

Community: Maihaugen Gallery Exhibit Committee & Support

Ann Wolpert, Nora Murphy, Michele Baildon, Jennifer Friedman, Stephen Skuce, Stephanie Hartman. Not included: Heather Denny, Shalini Patel, Nancy Schrock

Results, Outcome and Productivity: Survey Data Dissemination Team

Erja Kajosalo, Katherine McNeill, Melissa Feiden, Heather McCann, Mark Szarko, Lisa Horowitz, Ann Wolpert

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