University of Houston Libraries honored outstanding librarians and staff at an online awards ceremony this week. Interim dean of Libraries Marilyn Myers commended not only this year’s award recipients but all Libraries staff for being adaptable and thriving in this period of great challenge to health and safety.
The Dean’s Library Advocate Award was presented to Joujou Zebdaoui, director of minor planned projects in UH Facilities Planning and Construction. This award recognizes an employee who has worked closely with the Libraries during the past year, and who has made a significant contribution to the success of the Libraries. Zebdaoui facilitated multiple long-term construction projects for the Libraries. She praised the great work of her team in her acceptance of the award.
The Student Achievement Award recipients are Corey Sherrard and Jess Spiehler. Sherrard is creative, dependable, and brings passion to work every day. Over the past three years, Sherrard has grown into the role of lead producer in the Hamill Foundation Multimedia Studio and assists with the training of incoming studio technicians. Spiehler is a natural leader who is a driving force behind one of UH Libraries’ efforts to support research productivity and make that research globally available. Spiehler collaborates with colleagues to develop and streamline workflows, and routinely organizes new projects.
The McGovern Outstanding Student Awards went to Alys Garcia Carrera and Marus Jenkins, who work in tandem to push forward UH Libraries’ efforts to become a national leader in LGBT library collections. They work effectively with both Special Collections curators and community partners to preserve, catalog, and engage students with UH LGBT collections, and have made monumental efforts at organizing thousands of issues of local, regional, and national publications.
The McGovern Staff Rookie of the Year is Stefanie Florencio, an incredibly fast learner who has acclimated quickly and become both an integral member of the team and an important asset to the Libraries. She has fostered very good relationships with administrators and staff across campus and throughout the Libraries, and is able to juggle multiple responsibilities with discretion, diplomacy, sound judgment, and efficiency.
Reid Boehm is the Librarian Rookie of the year. She has developed relationships with colleagues across campus and in the Libraries, establishing herself as an effective collaborator, and contributing insight and knowledge to several ongoing projects. Boehm made immediate contributions to the Libraries’ research services initiatives, and is building a research data management program to strategically address identified needs and support existing research productivity efforts.
The second Librarian Rookie of the Year is Ian Knabe, who demonstrates high integrity, creativity, and strong librarianship on a daily basis. Knabe has strong knowledge of electronic resources, contract management, and vendor relations, and his problem-solving acumen has been in constant use as the Libraries worked through many challenges related to the system migration to Alma in the past year.
This year’s Outstanding Group is Research Materials Procurement. The members of this department have worked actively with the Alma migration, including new monographic processes with Metadata and Digitization Services, and with Information and Access Services on circulation workflows during the transition.
Ariana Santiago is this year’s Trailblazer Award recipient. Santiago took on the challenge of coming into a new, high-stakes position as open educational resources coordinator, one that required creative thinking, innovation, flexibility, and strong leadership skills. She has moved forward the Libraries’ strategic plan goal of being a leader in student success by making educational resources more affordable for students, particularly through the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP).
The inaugural recipient of the Dean Dana C. Rooks and Dr. Charles W. Rooks Diversity Award is Andrea Malone, a voice for all employees related to diversity and inclusion. Malone played a key role in developing the Libraries’ Plan for Advancing Diversity and Inclusion and served as the first chair of the Libraries’ Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI), working tirelessly for three years to get the committee launched and moving in the right direction, in support of broad equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts.
Chris Galloway is the winner of the Staff Achievement award. Galloway is known as a great resource and a great person who continually goes the extra mile, and then goes even further to make things better. During the Alma migration, Galloway quickly learned the software and became a point of contact because of his strength in using the software. He took on learning Alma modules, administrative tools, and analytics even though it was not required; he did it because it helped others and the library to adapt during the migration.
Edith Villasenor Cruz is the next Staff Achievement recipient. She is known for making the Libraries a joyful place to work for both colleagues and patrons while developing programs that engender student success. She oversees a robust schedule of pop-up libraries and has implemented many other innovative programs this year, including establishing a collection of circulating non-consumable art supplies and creating many student outreach events that remind students that the library is a space for inspiration and delight as well as research.
This year’s Outstanding Staff Award recipient is Yesenia Umana. She is not only extremely effective at her job, but is also a true pleasure to be around. Umana is an ideal colleague, always dependable, patient, helpful, and generous with her time, and has quickly become the go-to person for all things finance. She was also an active participant in the Alma migration, and played an integral role in not one but two departments.
Veronica Arellano Douglas is the recipient of the Librarian Achievement Award. She enjoys a reputation as a rigorous scholar, passionate educator, and advocate for centering labor and care in library practice. Douglas has an active, robust, and highly regarded research agenda, having authored numerous journal articles, book chapters, and presentations on topics such as relational-cultural theory in librarianship, the gendered divide of labor in libraries, and the emotional labor performed by instruction librarians. She has also made significant contributions to the profession at the national level, and was recently selected to be a member of the 2020-21 cohort of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Leadership and Career Development Program.
The next recipient of the Librarian Achievement Award is Wenli Gao, known for being an effective collaborator and strong leader, one who has gone above and beyond her core responsibilities to build a data services program from the ground up. Gao has a strong body of scholarship, having published seven journal articles in the last two years and actively presenting at conferences both local and national. Gao was elected vice-president/president-elect of the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) and received the CALA President’s Recognition Award for her exceptional work and leadership chairing several CALA committees.
This year’s McGovern Outstanding Librarian recipient is Kerry Creelman. She has been a leader at UH Libraries for more than ten years, and is known for her strong voice, strategic thinking, and collaborations with departments and librarians throughout the library. A long-standing faculty senator, Creelman has raised the visibility of UH Libraries to faculty, served as chair of the Undergraduate Subcommittee, and has twice been elected to the Faculty Governance Committee. Creelman also has a strong record of service in the profession going back many years, including a prestigious appointment as chair of the University Libraries Section of Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and current appointment to the ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award Committee.
The 2020 Library Excellence Awards committee members are Emily Deal, J Fisher, Ian Knabe, Tim McGittigan, Alex Simons, Shawn Vaillancourt, and Christin Zepeda.