University of Houston Libraries celebrated its high-performing employees at an awards ceremony this week. The Library Excellence Awards, now in its 22nd year, recognizes librarians and staff who achieve meritorious work goals and embody organizational values of collaboration, empathy, and creativity. Dean of Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair Athena N. Jackson opened the Moon Day-themed event, held in-person at the MD Anderson Library Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion and via Zoom, with praise for all Libraries’ employees and their agility during the intentional restructure of the Libraries to better align with the University’s mission and vision.
The Dean’s Advocate award was presented to Claudia Neuhauser, PhD, associate vice president and associate vice chancellor for research and technology transfer at University of Houston. Dr. Neuhauser has engaged with UH Libraries to amplify the Libraries’ role in the research enterprise, such as developing co-sponsored data management workshops that connected the Libraries with researchers; partnering with the Libraries on expanding research infrastructure and advocating for the first jointly-funded position between the Libraries and the UH Division of Research; and collaborating to expand expertise in digital humanities research and emphasizing the important role that public-facing research plays at UH.
The Student Achievement awards were presented to Emily Slaughter and Robby Reyna. Slaughter has an exemplary attitude, along with patience and a willingness to lend help where it’s needed. Currently a graduate student in the Curriculum and Instruction Art Education program, Slaughter’s insight on the learning habits of art students is always most welcome. Reyna is a student ambassador for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) and has excelled as a motivated self-starter with great communication skills, able to identify what needs to be done as efficiently as possible and always looking for ways to improve productivity.
This year’s John P. McGovern Outstanding Student award recipient is Ricardo Jimenez Montoya, a doctoral student at the Moores School of Music. Montoya’s positive attitude has made a strong impression on colleagues at the Music Library and fellow students engaged in music performance, scholarship and beyond. As a way to increase the audience for Music Library social media content, Montoya created reviews and recommendations for digital display in both English and Spanish. As a violin player in the Mariachi Pumas and instructor at the Suzuki Academy of Music, Montoya is an in-demand practitioner-educator.
Eric Larsen is the McGovern Staff Rookie of the Year. Larsen is excellent at assisting patrons with using databases and other library resources, teaching methods of conducting research in a library, and leading library staff to complete special projects. After the pandemic changed the nature of the workplace, Larsen seized the opportunity to pivot by providing a high-level of customer service in a hybrid-flexible environment.
Leo Martin is the McGovern Librarian Rookie of the Year. As a resource description librarian of unique formats, Martin has provided excellent resource description to music scores, sound recordings, and video recordings. He has developed, documented, and provided training to colleagues to ensure accurate entry of data. He serves as coordinator of the Subject Authority Cooperative (SACO) Music Funnel of the Music Library Association and currently co-chairs the Conscious Editing Working Group.
This year’s Trailblazer Award for Leading Organizational Change recipients are Kerry Creelman and Veronica Arellano Douglas, who are recognized for the restructuring of Liaison Services and fundamental improvements on how services are provided to academic departments. Rather than providing support by discipline, librarians now focus on the specific service need of users. The work to overhaul Liaison Services into the functional departments of Teaching and Learning, Collections Strategies and Services, and Research Services has been transformational.
Julie Grob received the Dean Dana C. Rooks and Dr. Charles W. Rooks Diversity Award for her focus on initiatives related to diversity and inclusion. Grob has been a part of the Libraries’ Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CoDI) for over 5 years, and was integral in providing data and context to help the Libraries formulate perspectives and narratives on emerging equity, diversity, and inclusion issues and events. As curator for the Houston Hip Hop Research Collection, Grob is on the forefront of preserving important cultural records and artifacts showing the complexity and diversity of the hip hop movement in Houston and in Texas.
Estefania Garcia and Jeannie Pham received Staff Achievement awards. Garcia became an avid promoter of equity and social justice by curating book displays that represent marginalized groups. Garcia is reliable and creative, assisting with promoting materials, creating short story clips on searching for articles, images, videos, and databases, and managing the William R. Jenkins Architecture, Design, and Art Library‘s Instagram account. Garcia is a recent graduate of the School of Art with a wide-ranging knowledge of art programs, and offers invaluable insight on student needs and behaviors when planning outreach and service activities. Pham’s experience in serial resource ordering and payments is priceless. She handles payments of all serials titles and the processing of database payments while working patiently to solve problems or obstacles with vendors or accounts payable. Her resourcefulness is shown in collaboration with others on activations, the study of Alma (the library services platform) material, and the application of it to her tasks and projects.
The McGovern Outstanding Staff award recipient, Laura Ramirez, has contributed to UH Libraries and local organizations through active services with committees, task forces and scholarship work. She is a dedicated team member to the Theses and Dissertations Digitization (TDD) Task Force, contributing to the metadata mapping and migration, copyright reviews, and leading a sub-working group to discuss daily TDD issues and solve problems. Ramirez has provided excellent contributions to Metadata and Digitization Services by creating wiki sites and pages that allow a one—stop space for workflows for digital collections and the Cougar ROAR institutional repository, metadata resource, digital projects and authority control system which provides convenience for new employees to orient and learn metadata work.
The Librarian Achievement award went to Kerry Creelman, who has published book chapters on organizational restructure and articles on overhauling collections practices in libraries. Creelman has represented UH Libraries as a faculty senator for several years, and being elected to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee as a member at large for the past two years is an indication of her strong reputation among faculty peers. Creelman is highly respected on campus and represents the Libraries admirably.
Vince Lee is the McGovern Outstanding Librarian. He is genuinely collegial and his service to the profession is most impactful where it has overlapped with service to the University and the Houston community. As a curator and leader in Special Collections, Lee has taken UH Libraries’ LGBT History Research Collection from being a small component of the Carey Shuart Women’s Research Collection to becoming one of the most significant LGBT collections in the country, and has done this through stalwart work on campus and in the community, building productive, trusted relationships with students, faculty, staff, and community leaders with sustained efforts over the course of many years.