University of Houston Libraries honored outstanding librarians and staff at an awards ceremony this month, held at the MD Anderson Library Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion. Dean of Libraries Lisa German commended not only this year’s award recipients but all Libraries staff for their exemplary service, collaboration, and dedication to the mission of the Libraries.
The Dean’s Library Advocate Award was presented to Bill Allen, building management systems lead with UH Facilities. This award recognizes a University of Houston 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. Allen was part of the UH ride-out team that maintained critical infrastructure during Hurricane Harvey. He played a tremendous role in keeping the Libraries operational in the days following the disaster.
The Outstanding Group Award recognizes a group that has made a high-impact contribution to the Libraries. The Research Materials Procurement department, Nora Dethloff, Margaret Dunn, Alma Gallo, Selina Khan, Judy Parsons, Melissa Patterson, Jeannie Pham, Mary Rico, and Yesenia Umana, has experienced numerous changes to their structure, spaces, workflows, and responsibilities, but have all stepped up to the challenge and solved many problems. They have done all of this as students and faculty continue to depend on their services every day. They are known as a “team that clearly represents the UH Libraries’ stated values of staff and service excellence as illustrated in the Strategic Plan.”
The Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI) received the Trailblazer Award for Leading Organization Change. Lisa Cruces, Orolando Duffus, Margaret Dunn, Julie Grob, Andrea Malone (chair), Matthew Moore, Shawn Vaillancourt, Annie Wu, and Frederick Young have begun to lay the groundwork for new initiatives that will continue to improve the Libraries. Despite being newly formed, their work has already resulted in positive organizational changes.
The John P. McGovern Librarian Rookie of the Year Award winner is Taylor Davis-Van Atta, who, in a short time frame, has made significant contributions in a short time frame. He has been instrumental in bringing UH Libraries up to current digital scholarship standards with his work on Cougar ROAR and open access initiatives. His talent, creativity, and commitment have contributed to a multitude of projects, including improving workflows for the ingestion of data into the Cougar ROAR repositories, promoting Cougar ROAR to students and faculty and developing campus partnerships to showcase university scholarship along the way, and serving on the UH Libraries Copyright Team and the Faculty Senate Graduate and Professional Studies Committee.
Shanequea White is the McGovern Staff Rookie of the Year. White is the go-to for anything HR-related and is very well informed on UH campus life. Her zeal for excellence and efficiency has led her to innovate a workflow that streamlines the hiring process for student workers in the Libraries. Furthermore, she is active on the UH campus and in surrounding Houston communities. She serves as the Libraries Representative on the University of Houston Staff Council and as ex-officio for the newly established Library Staff Advisory Group. In fall, 2017, she Co-Chaired the Staff Council’s Events Committee and led the Sock and Blanket Drive that benefited Star of Hope Mission and Harris County Protective Services Guardianship Program.
The Student Achievement Award recipients are Rene Andrade (Research Materials Procurement) and Katherine DeYoung (Music Library). Andrade’s supervisor describes him as a person that “does all of this work with a smile,” but it is his leadership abilities that set him apart. DeYoung’s supervisor writes that her “natural ability to encourage and support others has earned her the unofficial title of Cruise Director.” She serves as team lead on multiple projects, and it is her leadership and desire to enhance the experiences of others that set her apart.
The McGovern Outstanding Student Award went to Diana Iraheta. She has been an invaluable part of Special Collections’ instruction support team since January 2017. She is dependable, trustworthy, and very attentive to detail. Iraheta is the go-to who gets the job done.
Jamie Duke was honored with the Staff Achievement Award for her attention to detail and can-do attitude. She is an outstanding representative of the Libraries with new and prospective employees. She serves on multiple search committees, coordinates all logistics for campus interviews. Her consistent outstanding performance, positive service attitude, and team player persona have made her an asset to the UH Libraries.
Sean Watkins received the Staff Achievement Award for being “one of the most talented developers working in academic libraries in the state if not the country.” He is a key member of the DAMS Implementation Team whose technical knowledge and abilities drives the development of the project. He has developed and deployed several products that have standardized and automated digitization, processing, and preservation workflows. He has presented work at multiple conferences. He recently developed and implemented an audio/video repository that has made over 500 videos from Libraries’ collections available online.
The Librarian Achievement Award recipients are Daniel Pshock and Melody Condron. Pshock has made major contributions to improving the Libraries’ online user experience. He conducted needs-assessment interviews with finding aid users in preparation for the development of ArchivesSpace, and he has conducted System Usability Scale evaluations to measure the perceived usability of the website according to users. He served as team lead for a Strategic Plan project, Graduate Student Online User Experience. He also contributed to the Strategic Plan project for website accessibility, which has resulted in a dramatic improvement in access for people with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Additionally, his content analysis of the Libraries’ website paved the way for the migration to the new web design and content management system. Condron has made significant contributions to both UH Libraries and the library profession. She has played key roles in authoring new policies and implementing changes related to electronic workflows, retention and replacement of print materials, reassignment of library spaces for new student-centered and exhibit use, and the acquisition of print resources via the new DDA service. She has actively worked with cross-departmental teams to create new workflows in the wake of the restructure of the Acquisitions unit. She has worked to advance UH Libraries’ strategic goals pertaining to the quality and relevance of collections as a member of various teams. Furthermore, she has published one book and is currently at work on two more. Her service to UH Libraries includes chairing the UH Librarians and Identifying Recognition Opportunities Committee. She also successfully completed the competitive Cougar Chairs Leadership Academy. Additionally, she serves on multiple committees at the national level and is a vocal advocate for under-served communities.
Susan Houston is the recipient of the McGovern Outstanding Staff Award. As chair of the Safety Committee, she has the safety of employees and patrons in mind. She promotes CPR/First Aid and other training for employees and manages emergency communications, ensuring that all employees are kept abreast of safety concerns and emergency situations. She also coordinates the implementation of various facilities needs throughout the building, including upgrading furnishings. She also coordinates the improvement of spaces. Houston demonstrated a commitment and drive that UH Libraries relied profoundly upon in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In addition to handling day-to-day facility requirements, she ensured that renovation and repairs progressed at an acceptable pace, communicated this progress with library staff, and addressed interim needs while spaces were out of commission. UH Libraries could not have come through the devastation of Harvey without her.
Mea Warren received the McGovern Outstanding Librarian Award. Warren has a demonstrated record of stepping up and is especially committed to leading and supporting student success initiatives at UH Libraries. She played a crucial role on the Campus Engagement Committee in the execution of Cougar First Impressions and Paws & Relax in the fall. She led the LinkedIn at the Library event last month while simultaneously helping the Faculty-Staff Campaign Committee to prepare a successful kickoff to the Hyped Up 2 Give campaign. Within her department, she contributes to the teaching team that serves two library instruction sessions each to a whopping fifteen sections of engineering writing every fall semester. She also devotes hours of recording time to a number of online information literacy modules for use in classes across all disciplines on campus. As a member of the Outreach Team, she provides on-demand research help to student athletes at the Alumni Center. She has also served as a “buddy” to help onboard new librarians to the department. She is a member of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Emerging Leaders Program and is an active member of several organizations related to her liaison areas. She has two publications for 2018. She is an outspoken advocate for under-served populations and presented on the experiences of librarians of color at the 2018 Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Leadership Symposium.
The 2018 Staff Awards committee members are Orolando Duffus (chair), Erica Lopez (vice-chair), Mark Cooper, Jamie Duke, Diana Dulek, Xiping Liu, Matthew Moore, Daniel Pshock, Mary Rico, and Christina Gola (ex officio).