Skip to main content

MIT Libraries Rewards and Recognition: 2019 Awards

2019 Infinite Mile Awards: Individual awards

Christine Moulen “Good Citizen Award”

The Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award is named after a dear colleague who passed away much too soon, who is fondly remembered as someone who exhibited a “how can I help?” attitude, demonstrated innovative and spontaneous behaviors that promote the work of MIT Libraries, and who supported teammates with courtesy and generosity.

 

The nominators for this award wrote that the winner “truly inspires excellence in our team... He continuously goes above and beyond his job description to ensure that everything is running smoothly - so smoothly, in fact, that sometimes his contribution goes unnoticed.” Nominators added, he tries “to establish an ethic of care in his leadership and to ensure that his colleagues and team feel safe, comfortable, and equipped to do their best work.”      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

His “how can I help?” attitude is made evident by his “relentless” support of staff professional development, including making opportunities of all kinds available to his staff, ranging from suggestions of classes to take or conferences to attend, as well as writing recommendations for scholarships. In addition, his colleagues noted how they benefit from his “deep organizational knowledge.”                         

                               

He has demonstrated innovative and spontaneous work behaviors through his ability to anticipate and solve both large-scale problems, such as creating documentation for all library staff, as well as making himself available for quick questions and Aleph problems. He is also a co-chair of the just recently created Staff Advisory Council which aims to better support all library staff.

 

And last but not least, his efforts to build community via the Libraries’ softball team, the Bibliotechs, has been sustained and considerable. His primary focus for the team is always whether everyone has a chance to play and enjoy the game, thus truly displaying the spirit of teamwork, courtesy, and generosity of the namesake of this award.

 

The Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award goes to Jeremiah Graves.

 

Bringing Out the Best - Cherry Ibrahim

 

The award for Bringing Out the Best recognizes a staff member who embodies the Libraries’ values of openness, inquiry, the pursuit of social justice, and an ethic of care. The winners in this category also inspire and encourage these values in their colleagues, and help to create an environment that allows as many of us to bring our full selves to work as possible.

 

This year’s recipient is widely praised for her compassion, foresight, thoughtfulness, and can-do attitude. Multiple nominators mentioned that this person always makes them feel better and “consistently models the caring organization we hope to be.” As another nominator said, “When someone is so open and fully themselves it creates space for you to do the same and without judgment, so she really does bring out the best in others. When we can be ourselves, we can be our best selves.”

 

She cheerfully takes on extra responsibility while still maintaining an ethic of care to those around her. She generously shares her knowledge with new colleagues and ensures that even the most seemingly minute detail is never overlooked. She recognizes the humanity in everyone, which is truly a gift.

 

She has used her remarkable organizational and problem-solving skills to help recruit, hire, and onboard new staff, plan the Libraries Staff Breakfasts, and serve on fast-moving search committees, all with a smile on her face. If this person is involved, you can guarantee that the project will move along more smoothly than it has, while also modeling “thoughtful and collaborative behavior for others.”

 

For her inspirational attitude and embodiment of the ethic of care that the Libraries aspires to, this year’s award winner for Bringing Out the Best Award is Cherry Ibrahim.

 

Collaboration and Inclusion: SAC Launch Team: Shannon Hunt, Stephanie Kohler, and Sam Spencer

 

This award acknowledges a team or individual who embody the values of inclusivity and collaboration. Recipients of this award enrich collaborations and group interactions through engagement, active listening, and thoughtful reflection, and they seek out and include ideas from others who have different backgrounds, beliefs, approaches, and styles.

 

This year’s honorees are the members of the Staff Advisory Council Launch Team, who had the difficult task of creating and overseeing a staff-driven nominating and voting process, the first of its kind in the Libraries. The launch team kept fairness and transparency at the forefront of the process, ensuring that everyone on the Libraries staff had a clear understanding of the procedures and that their colleagues who were eligible to run and vote all had an equal opportunity to do so.

 

The team emphasized in their communications that they sought representation on the Staff Advisory Council “across directorates” and from “demographics that capture the diversity of our staff.” They were an endless source of help and encouragement to those considering whether to participate, with the current SAC cohort praising the launch team for their effectiveness in “answering questions” and “clarifying expectations.” As the nominators noted, “It’s very easy to overlook the hard work that goes on behind the scenes when everything goes smoothly, but without the care and commitment to the process demonstrated by the members of the Staff Advisory Council Launch Committee, many things could have easily gone awry.”

 

Congratulations to the members of the Staff Advisory Council Launch Team, who are this year’s recipients of the Collaboration and Inclusion Award: Shannon Hunt, Stephanie Kohler, and Sam Spencer.

 

User Service: Georgiana McReynolds

 

The User Service and Support Award recognizes someone who consistently keeps users in mind when implementing or supporting the services and offerings of the Libraries. Someone who takes a proactive approach to working with a wide variety of users and colleagues, sharing knowledge, ideas, and support. One who consistently recognizes and seizes opportunities to continually improve service and support in meaningful ways and champions services that are welcoming and inclusive.

 

This awardee’s nominators highlighted her “tireless, exemplary work on tools and services that connect our communities to the information they need.” She does this in a number of ways that also improves the work of her colleagues so that they are able to provide a high-level of support to our user communities.

 

She has used her extensive knowledge of user experience, project management, and web design best practices to effectively lead a number of groups and teams, whose work is public-facing, to make our services more user-friendly. She is forward-looking and explores new areas where she should build her expertise in order to meet user needs and then, generously shares that knowledge with her colleagues.

 

She introduced Slack as a quick communication tool for members of ACE. She became aware of Slack through her work in Technology Planning, Integration, and Experience (TPIE), and immediately recognized its potential as a tool to help improve communication between Information Delivery & Library Access (IDLA) and LIRS.

 

One nominator writes: “Any question handled by Georgiana is guaranteed to be addressed thoroughly, thoughtfully, and professionally. She takes the time to understand and interpret users’ information needs and provides tailored strategies and solutions. Georgiana is admired and trusted by all her colleagues and she raises the bar for the rest of us!”

 

For her outstanding commitment to our user communities and thoughtful approach to improving our services, this year’s award for User Service and Support goes to Georgiana McReynolds.

 

Innovation, Creativity, Problem Solving - Discovery Index Team (Ben Abrahamse, Helen Bailey, Li Cheung, Mike Graves, Rhonda Kauffman, Jeremy Prevost)

 

In June 2018, a team comprised of DLS and MDCS members set out to build an indexing platform for populating searches/discovery, consolidating various source metadata into a single index. Eight months later, the MIT Discovery Index (aka TIMDEX) was born.

 

The MIT Libraries first API, TIMDEX is an important milestone. It is now being used as a service by our user communities AND as a data source from which the MIT Libraries can consume, curate and blend with other MIT data to advance discovery and access, improve relevance + context,  and bring together fragmented silos of content.

 

Taking a test and learn approach, the team built a model for parsing MIT MARC data from Aleph initially. Once that was proven successful, they knew additional data sources may be added for future expansion.

 

The team had the opportunity to accomplish many firsts.  The team applied new platform and architecture principles, utilized Proto-Personas, applied cloud-native development and deploy pipelines, created new modes of documenting systems architecture decisions, and identified ways to externalize the index for use by experts and newer user of API’s.

 

This work required a lot of creativity to find solutions and courage to press forward in adopting new techniques and solutions.

 

For their truly innovative and creative work, this year’s award for Innovation, Creativity, and Problem-Solving goes to the Discovery Index Team: Ben Abrahamse, Helen Bailey, Li Cheung, Mike Graves, Rhonda Kauffman, Jeremy Prevost.

 

Results, Outcome and Productivity: NE36 Move Team - Grace Mlady, Beverly Turner, Kelly Hopkins

Awardees in this category effectively and equitably manage priorities, time and resources to accomplish tasks that make an impact. They critically examine existing workflows and develop new ones, improving infrastructure. This year, the awarded team has been nominated for working unbelievably hard to bring a project to fruition despite challenges, setbacks, tight timelines, and complaints galore.

This team took on a project, “the scale and complexity of which had never been attempted in the MIT Libraries,” raved one nominator. Doing a “monumental and in many ways thankless job,” the members of this team effectively coordinated a slew of internal and external stakeholders, made sure the work was successful and on time, while fielding countless questions, and mitigating numerous anxieties. They made it look easy!

Despite the knotty logistics, the team made every effort to involve the impacted community, listening to hopes and dreams as well as major concerns. They did their best to generate principles to ensure equity and fairness in the end results, and worked to set reasonable and attainable expectations among all staff, even while dealing with issues of culture and change. One nominator explains, “The task of managing expectations and assuring fairness and equity across the large group of staff who were directly affected was staggering.”

Throughout the project, the three team members continued to perform their day-to-day work, and still were able to approach the project with “grace and aplomb,” and their colleagues with “poise, kindness and joy.” They communicated regularly, with “upbeat and open” messages. To achieve their goal, they had to be transformative, and sharing their experience has already impacted the Hayden Renovation Project.

 

For their awe-inspiring efforts to move 70 staff (representing nearly 40% of the total library staff) from across the Libraries to a new location on the edge of campus, this Team Award in the category of Results, Outcome, and Productivity, goes to the NE36 Move Team: Kelly Hopkins, Grace Mlady, and Beverly Turner.

 

Tough Questions/Critical Thinker: Barbara Williams

This award recognizes a library staff member whose ability to ask the tough questions leads to stronger ideas and better solutions. Raising questions to surface underlying issues and root causes drives the organization to transform practices that are not in line with our values. Challenging our ways of thinking can lead to real progress in the development of a truly inclusive organizational structure.

This award winner is not afraid to ask questions, especially when they pertain to the well-being and professional growth of colleagues. One nominator explains that, “there are few others whom I have seen so fearlessly ask tough questions that need to be asked.” Another explains that this staff member asks questions that “hold people’s feet to the fire,” making us all think more deeply about our own ideas, improving our work as a result.

This individual is driven by a sense of fairness and a respect for the expertise and talent of others. Their observations “make note of unforseen implications or consequences that will put some colleagues at an unfair advantage,” and “unearth the hidden assumptions underneath policies and decisions that serve to perpetuate bias.” Noting troubling friction between our values-in-action and our values-in-practice, this staff member elevates discussions to new levels of respect as well as insight.

Although the feedback offered might be difficult or uncomfortable, this award winner manages to provide it with a smile and an honesty that empowers us to have the kind of uncomfortable conversations we need to live up to our values. “[Giving] voice and vocabulary to colleagues who have similar views but might be reluctant or not even know how to articulate them,” this award winner inspires others to be more thoughtful about our values-in-practice.

For her challenging questions and her thought-provoking contributions, the Libraries are pleased to present the Tough Questions/Critical Thinkers award to Barbara Williams.

 

Unsung Hero: Renee Hellenbrecht

 

This award recognizes a library staff member who is a dependable, steady presence, who fills in the gaps where needed without fanfare, and who shares valuable knowledge, ideas, and advice that increases our individual and collective successes.

This year’s recipient takes things on to make it a better community and place to work, be it a warm and welcoming onboarding or technological solutions. She is a treasured member of the MIT Libraries staff who daily makes a positive impact in many ways.  Today is her day to shine bright like the diamond she is.

 

She has a solution for every problem that arises; willingly and endlessly applying herself to the efforts of MIT and its employees; her colleagues, over and over again. She is so very often the “go-to” person when people across the Libraries have questions; be they tech queries, process inquiries, or anything else imaginable. She greets everyone with the same level of helpfulness and genuine concern for whatever issues they may bring to the table.  Between creating processes and forms for staff to use on a day-to-day basis; handling event logistics or onboarding prep so everything runs smoothly and creating a space that everyone can enjoy, she’s always looking for ways to improve how we function as a unit.

 

When some of her colleagues needed to learn more about Webex, she created documentation and led a training session so everyone felt ready to use it in meetings – including the fact that she led the training with mock Webex meetings incorporating different problem scenarios to help others feel prepared when hosting their own meetings.

 

As one nominator said, “she gets things done, often without other people even realizing that there was something that needed to be done.” She empowers her colleagues and makes sure they feel supported in their work.

 

On more personal notes, she is a talented baker with a fabulous eye for art; brightening the space of NE-36 via baked goods, intriguing games/puzzles, and art she curated for the walls of the office. She has an impressive array of skills that make others feel empowered in their work – work she also shines a light on, as she supports her colleagues and keeps everything on-track. She looks ahead, planning for needs that haven’t yet arisen, considering details that would never occur to most people. And she does it all with a quiet enthusiasm, a mind full of resources, and a heart of gold.

 

For her tireless ability to come up with solutions and considerable thoughtfulness to her colleagues, this year’s award for Unsung Hero goes to Renée Hellenbrecht!

 

.

 

Christine Moulen “Good Citizen Award”

 

The Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award is named after a dear colleague who passed away much too soon, who is fondly remembered as someone who exhibited a “how can I help?” attitude, demonstrated innovative and spontaneous behaviors that promote the work of MIT Libraries, and who supported teammates with courtesy and generosity.

 

The nominators for this award wrote that the winner “truly inspires excellence in our team... He continuously goes above and beyond his job description to ensure that everything is running smoothly - so smoothly, in fact, that sometimes his contribution goes unnoticed.” Nominators added, he tries “to establish an ethic of care in his leadership and to ensure that his colleagues and team feel safe, comfortable, and equipped to do their best work.”      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

His “how can I help?” attitude is made evident by his “relentless” support of staff professional development, including making opportunities of all kinds available to his staff, ranging from suggestions of classes to take or conferences to attend, as well as writing recommendations for scholarships. In addition, his colleagues noted how they benefit from his “deep organizational knowledge.”                         

                               

He has demonstrated innovative and spontaneous work behaviors through his ability to anticipate and solve both large-scale problems, such as creating documentation for all library staff, as well as making himself available for quick questions and Aleph problems. He is also a co-chair of the just recently created Staff Advisory Council which aims to better support all library staff.

 

And last but not least, his efforts to build community via the Libraries’ softball team, the Bibliotechs, has been sustained and considerable. His primary focus for the team is always whether everyone has a chance to play and enjoy the game, thus truly displaying the spirit of teamwork, courtesy, and generosity of the namesake of this award.

 

The Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award goes to Jeremiah Graves.

 

 

Photos

MIT Libraries' 2018 Infinite Mile Awards Recipients