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MIT Libraries Rewards and Recognition: 2015 Awards

2015 Infinite Mile Awards: Individual awards

Unsung Hero: Ann Adelsberger

Most of us have seen and benefited from this awardee’s work, but few may actually know this individual.  Certainly, few of us know how much effort goes into the over 50 projects – large and small - this person works on in a given year. Described by the nominator as a “workhorse”, this individual works behind the scenes to keep projects on track and on schedule. Highly capable and efficient, she responds in a timely manner, follows up as needed, and turns requests around on a dime. She is an invaluable support to her team and to various library units and staff. Throughout the year, she helps organize numerous efforts and events, steps in to help wherever needed and shares her creative skills. “If you’ve seen a poster, slide, or postcard promoting a library event or resource, she is most likely the person who designed it!”

With “finesse and enthusiasm,” this individual is helping build the MIT Libraries’ future today through her contributions to our communications and marketing efforts  - critical functions in our shared success.

For the way she “juggles an impressive array of projects, events, social media, and photo shoots with little fanfare, but with great impact”, the Libraries 2015 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Unsung Hero, goes to Ann Adelsberger.


Community Building: Ellen Duranceau

The Institute can be a confusing, impenetrable and overwhelming place whether you are on campus or seeking entry from outside.  Physically and metaphorically, MIT can appear to be just a series of long, cold and grey corridors lined with mysterious, closed doors. This awardee is helping build the MIT Libraries’ future today by promoting access points, actual and virtual, that nurture community.

This individual’s ongoing work involves being regularly in touch with MIT faculty and researchers to open their research to a global community of users.  A student in Brazil, who uses DSpace@MIT, wrote:

“I am most thankful to MIT for freely sharing so many articles, for this attitude not only helps scientific knowledge to be disseminated across the globe,” but it also “inspire[s] those students who, like myself, do not have a chance of paying for many of these publications.  MIT is not only sharing knowledge, it is helping those in need on the pursuing of their dreams.”

This awardee is also an organizer of a special, non-traditional outreach effort to students on campus. Upon arriving to the unusual gathering in the Hayden lobby, one student lamented that MIT “‘is a very stressful place’ … but she left smiling and relaxed.” During this fun, informal visit to the MIT Libraries, she met at least one librarian, chatted with classmates and got to pet some special furry visitors.

For her work with the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy, and with “Cookies with Canines” and “Furry First Fridays,” the Libraries 2015 Infinite Mile Award, in the category of Community Building, goes to Ellen Duranceau.


Bringing out the Best: Anne Graham

The heart-felt nomination received for this awardee reflects the very high esteem colleagues have for one who “truly cares about people and is quick to lend a hand – personally and professionally.” This person inspires others by being genuinely present, open, kind, interested, sincere, and encouraging. One nominator wrote that this librarian “has a way of sharing … knowledge and expertise with huge grace and modesty” and a “manner that has contributed significantly to the collegiality of our office environment.”

As a new reference coordinator, this person was immediately proactive about working to improve the relationship between reference and access services. She built bridges between staff groups by encouraging and leading in cross-training and by consistently affirming the contributions of individual team members. Her willingness to learn new things sets an example for others. One nominator wrote that the key to this individual’s effectiveness is in being “a very good and empathetic listener who will help you think through an issue [or] problem – or just listen, whatever you prefer.”

This awardee is helping build the MIT Libraries’ future today with every “face-to-face” interaction she has with colleagues and with members of the MIT community. The real joy of librarianship for this awardee is not just curating a collection, but showing the people she serves how to use it.

In the category of Bringing Out the Best, the Libraries 2015 Infinite Mile Award goes to Anne Graham.


Results, Outcomes and Productivity: Sara Meyers

Nominators provided numerous examples of this individual’s can-do spirit, excellent communication, flexibility, trouble-shooting abilities, and interest and willingness to take on new roles and learn new skills.  In addition to being tremendously productive, nominators agreed that this co-worker is cheerful, funny and a real pleasure to work with.

This awardee has “expert cataloging skills”; handles routine and complex tasks with equal care; serves as “the first line of triage” for problems; is ever attentive to details; and uses “clever detective work to puzzle things out”.  She adapts quickly to new and different domains and systems and she understands workflows!  It sounds like the MIT Libraries’ metadata is in safe hands with her!

On top of juggling unbelievable amounts of projects, this individual helps less-experienced staff members and seeks opportunities to assist our users. A nominator wrote that this awardee “stepped up in a major way with getting our temp hired and productive and she keeps our student worker busy and trained with multiple projects.” By taking shifts at the circulation desk, she learns how a given problem or unusual situation in Barton will affect our users and resolves the situation in the most user-friendly manner.

This awardee is helping build the MIT Libraries’ future today by exemplifying in her own daily work how all our work is connected.

In the category of Results, Outcomes and Productivity, the Libraries 2015 Infinite Mile Award goes to Sara Meyers.


Customer Service: Jessica Zieman

“Highly spirited,” “infectiously nice,” “tireless,” “versatile," “force of nature” are words and phrases used by colleagues to describe this awardee who provides stellar customer service to patrons and staff alike. This individual is helping build the MIT Libraries’ future today by placing people first.

This awardee’s service attitude is strongly conveyed by her nominators: “She has a positive attitude that just draws people to her and makes her very approachable at the desk”; “she presents difficult news to patrons with tact and empathy”; and, “she sees transactions through until the end.” This individual “is very patient with some of our repeat customers, who make repeat errors.” “She always has a genuine smile, listening ear, and a happy outlook that are contagious.” Her unique combination of welcoming engagement, breadth of knowledge, ability to find an answer if she does not know one means that patrons inevitably walk away pleased with the experience.

Colleagues love working with this individual because not only is she “sunny and upbeat,” but because she knows her stuff! With her extensive cross-training, an unwavering interest to learn new things, and a willingness to fix problems, she is fast becoming a linchpin in her department. She steps in and provides invaluable coverage while simultaneously keeping up with her own work. Nominators shared numerous examples of how this “Jane of all trades” has extended herself with excellent results. 

In the category of Customer Services, the Libraries 2015 Infinite Mile Award goes to Jessica Zieman.

2015 Infinite Mile awards: Team Awards

Community building: Aga Khan Documentation Center Team

Global MIT is more than a buzzword or slogan to this dedicated, hard-working group. Although their work may be unfamiliar to many of us, this team is helping build the MIT Libraries’ future today by fostering an international community of scholars.

This team has “developed Archnet, a globally-accessible, intellectual resource for architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design, visual culture, and conservation issues related to the Muslim world. The current platform, Archnet 2.0, was launched in 2014 and has been an enormous success. Beyond the significant improvements in usability and functionality, they have substantially increased the content hosted in the database.” One expert has identified it as “the best instance of a digital humanities project at MIT.”

Archnet is a cornerstone of a larger effort to foster an international community of scholars in the realm of Islamic art and architecture (in the broadest sense), and it is in this realm that this team deserves recognition.  The team partners in hosting numerous educational and cultural events at MIT and elsewhere, and they are sought after participants at a variety of professional conferences and gatherings.

The impact of this team’s work is best summarized by the nominator: “In a world that desperately needs positive perspectives about our shared cultural heritage, this group does so much to make these perspectives available. In doing so, they foster the ability of many others to contribute to the conversation. I can’t think of a better example of community building …”

The Libraries 2015 Infinite Mile Award in the category of Community Building goes to the Aga Khan Documentation Center Team: Betsy Baldwin, Andrea Schuler, Sharon Smith, and Michael Toler         


Problem Solving: Hayden Collection Size Planning Group

In a short period of time, this volunteer team came up with clear and concise scenarios and strategies for storing and weeding our collections in order to make the impending space changes possible. The group was convened in December 2014 and by February had completed an excellent analysis and presented their recommendations.  Because of their work, the MIT Libraries is moving forward on a set of well thought-out recommendations for reducing our collections footprint.   

The nominator wrote: “Just from a logistical/logical standpoint, this project is incredibly challenging and requires a lot of analysis and collections know-how. On top of this though, all of us feel very passionate about our collections so talking about moving, storing and weeding can be pretty emotional.” Therefore, the team’s approach in reaching out to colleagues for feedback and ideas to inform their work is particularly noteworthy. 

This team is helping build the Libraries’ future today through inclusive and open problem solving methods that effectively draw on collective intelligence.

The Libraries 2015 Infinite Mile Award in the category of Problem Solving goes to the Hayden Collection Size Planning Group: Michelle Baildon, Courtney Crummett, Erja Kajosalo, Deborah Lenares, Lorrie McAllister, Michael Noga, and Cassandra Silvia.


Communication and Collaboration: LDLC & LIRS Leadership Team

This team's method for success: communication equals trust equals productivity.

2014 was a challenging year with many vacancies in key leadership positions. Rather than appoint an interim department head for one of the vacancies, a team approach was used. Sometimes the expectation for interim arrangements is that the status quo will be maintained and new efforts put off until a new leader is hired. That did not happen here. This group established a “hive mind with strong communications practices, excellent teamwork, and deep trust among the team members. In addition to holding full liaison roles as well as supervisory responsibilities, this “powerhouse” leadership team produced an impressive list of accomplishments which include fulfilling department head responsibilities during the vacancy, sponsoring work on strategic priority projects; filling two liaison vacancies; and adding Chat reference to the service portfolio.  As if that weren’t enough, the team also managed through a reorganization. When LDLC was merged with IRS to form the single department of Liaison, Instruction and Reference Services (LIRS), the group had to “morph” into a new leadership team. They worked together to enable a quick transition and to form “a stable leadership platform from which to create a new department.”

These awardees are helping build the MIT Libraries’ future with their example of shared leadership.

The Libraries 2015 Infinite Mile Award in the category of Communication and Collaboration goes to LDLC & LIRS Leadership TeamPeter Cohn , Lisa Horowitz, Erja Kajosalo, Angie Locknar, and Mark Szarko