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MIT Libraries Rewards and Recognition: 2021 Awards

2021 Infinite Mile Awards


Unsung Hero

While they are a relatively new addition to Camp MIT, our first recipient has quickly become an MVP in the libraries, described as a “linchpin” by one colleague. One nominator says that, when they think of an unsung hero, this honoree “immediately comes to mind.”

 From their first day, this colleague dove head first into both the libraries and the greater MIT community. Several coworkers noted this person’s kindness and easy communication to all Libraries staff, taking note that they are warm and open when interacting with student employees at Lewis or simply checking in on how others are feeling, exemplifying the openness and empathy of the best campers and counselors.

Other coworkers have noted this person’s inquisitiveness and eagerness to learn, taking one or two classes every semester to increase their knowledge and skills. As one nominator put it, “Whenever they have free time, they’re looking for how they can learn more.” They are also, according to one colleague, “humble and generous with what they do know,” always willing to pass on their expertise, and meeting with colleagues and other members of the MIT community to help them out. This honoree is constantly asking important questions, focusing on providing the best service possible to patrons, and troubleshooting problems and concerns.

More recently, this person has shown that they are a true IDLA all-star. Colleagues have noted their reliability in taking on extra desk, delivery, and AskChat shifts. As their nominators explained:  “Before IDLA staff returned to onsite work, they volunteered to come back and help prepare the spaces. This was done with no fanfare and was a massive undertaking in a short amount of time. They were also instrumental to the delivery service restart plan.”

It is with gratitude for this individual’s many contributions to the Libraries that we would like to recognize Jonathan Paul as an Unsung Hero.


Results, Outcome and Productivity

At Camp MIT, our wilderness guides are all highly trained and capable outdoors-persons. And today we want to recognize one particular guide for their contributions to Camp MIT.

Being responsible for guiding a group of campers on an expedition into the wilderness (or a software migration… during a pandemic) is not an easy job, particularly if you intend to make it out alive.

A colleague said that this Camp MIT wilderness guide “has demonstrated time after time that [they’ve] got it all under control, with a great attitude to boot!” and “[they have] perfected the art of balancing a mountain of tasks.”

It takes technical expertise, as well as planning and organizational abilities to be a Camp MIT wilderness guide. Our guides have to plan the routes, make sure the campers have everything they’ll need for their journey, and once underway, they need to respond quickly to any unforeseen dangers [make a wild animal noise] which may be lurking around any turn on the trail [make a different wild animal noise].

It’s not just external dangers that Camp MIT wilderness guides have to deal with. Camping is in-tents! And when campers need help with their tents, this recipient excels at “framing problems, breaking them down, and serving as a translator between diverse groups of stakeholders.”

Camp MIT wilderness guides are also interpreters, helping campers understand the sometimes bizarre workings of their new surroundings. 

Our nominators call this honoree “super versatile” and say, “Their ability to explain technical to non-techies is amazing and something [they] do with a great deal of patience and humor.” 

Our Camp MIT wilderness guides never guide alone, and each guide has an important role to play in every successful expedition. But each expedition is different and this year our recipient’s skills and efforts were continually on display.

Our nominators say: “This work would have been monumental in itself given the very short timeframe in which it had to be accomplished, but doing it on top of an already heavy workload ... was a significant challenge,” and “They have been a linchpin of this [expedition], and though it has been done by a team it truly couldn’t have been done without their expertise and humor.”

For such outstanding Results, Outcome, and Productivity, we’re happy to recognize Tania Fersenheim!


Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award

When we think about this next honoree, they tick off every box for qualities every great camp counselor and good Camp MIT citizen would have.

Going down the ol’ clipboard, these qualities would be:

●            Always ready to step up and help, supporting their colleagues any way they can. No matter what is going on, they’re always willing to lend a hand.

●            A flair for innovative approaches and spontaneous problem solving. They take initiative, shepherding work along when others aren’t sure where to start.

●            Making the teams they’re a part of more effective by sharing their expertise.

●            Mediating conflicts and keeping their teams on-track.

●            Compassion and empathy, always thinking about potential impacts on others before taking action.

●            Unflagging courtesy and generosity.

This individual exemplifies both patience and positivity, and has been called “one of the most hardworking people their colleagues have met,” constantly exceeding the expectations of their official role. One colleague notes that “They are an authentic and reliable colleague who carries an often shifting and heavy load of work, who makes a point to ask for feedback and takes [any] corrective actions required, and who genuinely makes an effort to put their best foot, and face, forward at all times.”

One nominator describes them as “always quick with a kind word and a hilarious joke that can snap the tension on even the most difficult days.” (It should be noted that they are a reigning Dad Joke champion.) They are as generous as they are driven, handling difficult situations with, as one colleague says, “a graceful professionalism that I not only admire but try to inculcate into my own work.”

 Known for being an excellent listener and as genuinely interested in others and their welfare, they have been called “a rock of support within chaos particularly through the pandemic.” One nominator says that “They are constantly trying to spread positivity and cheer even in the most stressful of situations”

For their hard work, grace, supportive attitude, and ethic of care, we’re pleased to present Sam Locke with the Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award!


Innovation, Creativity and Problem-Solving

Some campers take creativity and ingenuity to a whole new level. These ambitious problem-solvers can puzzle out the best way to start a campfire on a stormy night, how to ford a wild river in a canoe, or how to strategize a softball win against their archrival camp.

The team we’re recognizing made camp in Barker during the lockdown, setting up their tents in the reading room in August to begin their adventure.

They circled the Barker Dome like campers at a campfire to enable access to our resources to the MIT community during the shutdown. Their cabins on the 5th floor included the conservation cabin, the Atiz and Fujitsu cabins, the reference cabin, and the camp counselor over by the Barker circulation desk. Using their book trucks like canoes in the empty streams that were the Institute hallways, they moved materials around to get them imaged and delivered to the MIT community.

They crafted on equipment moved out of the imaging lab for safe distancing and out of the construction of Hayden. This group not only had to set up a pop-up team in a new space, but they also had to build new workflows on a new request system while juggling all of the challenges that COVID restrictions threw their way.

There were many complicated demands on the group, challenging them to invent new ways of providing previously physical materials and services to stakeholders. The group quickly pivoted, setting up hover cams and managing many zoom reference consultations. This team imaged 30 rare books, almost 500 on-demand requests, resulting in over 20,000 images, performed conservation treatments on about one hundred pieces, supported 15 classes, and conducted countless virtual reference sessions--all while being fully masked all day long.

When their camping adventure in Barker ended in early April, as all great campers do, they packed up without a trace left behind and went back home to building 14.

For their nimble, creative, and tireless efforts, we’re thrilled to recognize the DDC Restart Team of Ashlynn August, Mattie Clear, Myles Crowley, Jana Dambrogio, Neal Johnson, Grace Johnson-DeBaufre, Ayako Letizia, Jess Meyers, and Jenn Morris for Innovation, Creativity, and Problem Solving!


Results, Outcome and Productivity

Here at Camp MIT--like people and teams the world over--we’ve spent much of the past fifteen months navigating uncharted territory. Thankfully, we haven’t had to go it alone, and we have immense gratitude and respect for the orienteering skills of this super-team.

This team was instrumental in planning the return to on-campus work. As one nominator puts it, “They stepped forward to contribute expertise to help design whole new services to meet community needs.” They guided us through the deep, dark forest, sharing their knowledge on how to set up new workflows for shipping, tracking, and receiving returns from users. They scouted entirely new locations for existing workflows. They worked collaboratively to extend and improve existing digital services. They set up novel workflows for needs that hadn’t existed pre-pandemic, like “establishing new custom workflows to support chamber music ensembles whose members were located far from one another.” They were innovative, determined, and focused.

Both the pandemic and the closure of the Hayden basement collection set up obstacles that this team expertly navigated around, creating entirely new on-site safety protocols, scheduling models, and alternative means of accessing collections. As their nominators put it, “In short, they rolled with a constantly changing landscape as the State, MIT and the Libraries navigated the COVID crisis, and did so with a thoughtful and patron centered focus.”

This team performed a monumental series of tasks, including processing over 7000 returns in September 2020; handling a deluge of loans, deliveries, scan and deliver and circulation requests; and managing a 150% increase in Ask Chat requests over the previous year. The MIT community has also expressed gratitude for this team’s effort; one patron thanked them “for assisting me and so many other researchers at MIT during these strange, uncertain, and difficult times.”

For their amazing results and incredibly hard work during truly unprecedented times, we’re thrilled to recognize the herculean efforts of the ID&LA and Music support staff teams, and their members: Moses Carr, Astride Chery, Ashley Clark, Lara Day, Jim Eggleston, Cate Gallivan, Allyson Harper-Nixon, Jessica Holmes, Samuel Hong, S. Kohler, Forrest Larson, Georgina Lewis, Maura Liggio, Donald Long, Howard Martin, Jacky Martin, Alyssa Maynard, Jessa Modell, Jonathan Paul, Daniel Pribble, Jessica Shrey, Pixie Rose, Maria Walsh, Jaclyn Wilson, and Hannah Winkler!


MIT Libraries' 2021 Infinite Mile Awards Recipients

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