University Libraries celebrates outstanding contributions of staff and faculty

Employees recognized at 2018 Library Awards ceremony and reception

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries honored five staff members for their outstanding contributions toward the Libraries’ ongoing success at its annual awards ceremony, held May 15 in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium on the University Park campus. Each spring, award recipients are chosen from a pool of nominations submitted by their fellow faculty and staff, in appreciation of the dedication and talent they bring to the Libraries.

The 2018 award recipients were announced by Barbara I. Dewey, dean of the University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, in a ceremony that also included family and friends of the awardees, as well as Libraries faculty and staff.

The Margaret Knoll Spangler Oliver Award, to honor and recognize outstanding service by employees at the University Libraries, was awarded to J. Christopher Holobar, manager of lending and reserve services, and a full-time staff member who will celebrate 25 years of service this year. Holobar was nominated by Nadine Deitrich, who noted, “Chris is the most calm, patient and courteous person I have ever met. He treats everyone, and I mean everyone, with respect and is always offering to discuss problems with anyone, even when meeting under the most difficult situations.”  

The Shirley J. Davis Staff Excellence Award — created in Davis’ honor by faculty, staff, alumni and friends as a tribute to her years of commitment to the University Libraries — was awarded to Mary Murray, information resources and services specialist at the John D. Vairo Library at Penn State Brandywine. Going above and beyond what is expected was a common sentiment in Murray’s nomination packet.

“While I can’t say enough about the quality of her work, what has really impressed me about Mary over the years is the degree to which she always goes the extra mile to help a colleague out, cover the bases when no one else is on hand, and evens out the work environment to make sure everyone has a good day,” said Chris Avery, senior director of Commonwealth Campus Libraries.

The University Libraries Award recognizes a member of the University Libraries for professional contribution, service, leadership and innovation, which have a significant influence on the operations of the University Libraries, earns respect of the Penn State community for the Libraries, or shows significant contribution to the library profession reflecting positively on Penn State and the University Libraries. The 2018 honor was awarded to History Librarian Eric Novotny.

“Eric Novotny has been an invaluable and generous instructional resource. He graciously schedules library classes for my courses, tailoring them to meet the needs of the syllabus and the students,” said Lori Ginzberg, professor of history and women’s studies. “Eric has been my primary and most consistently innovative resource in the Pattee Library, guiding me, my students and my colleagues through technological changes that have transformed all our lives.”

The University Libraries Diversity Award rewards extraordinary commitment and/or contributions to enhancing the Libraries’ environment of mutual respect for differing backgrounds and points of view. The honor rewards outstanding accomplishments and general impact in the area of diversity. It was awarded this year to Sherry Lonsdale, Department for Information Technologies database specialist, for ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion on the Commission for Women and throughout the University Libraries.   

“Sherry has worked tirelessly to ensure that Penn State provides a welcoming campus climate, recruits and retains a diverse workforce, and encourages organizational change to support diversity,” noted Dace Freivalds, Department Head for Information Technologies, in her nomination application for Lonsdale.

The University Libraries Teaching Award honors an individual who has excelled in teaching and/or created an exemplary and innovative instruction program during the past year, and has a teaching component as part of his or her primary assignment. Emily Rimland, information literacy librarian and learning technologies coordinator, is the recipient of this year’s University Libraries Teaching Award.

In her nomination letter, Ellysa Cahoy, education and behavioral sciences librarian, said that Rimland is “a visionary library instructor and innovator who has created an exemplary and innovative instruction program that is rich with student impact. She is deeply committed to helping students become effective information consumers and information creators.”    

This year, 27 nominations were received for the five awards. The difficult job of choosing the winners from among the nominations was decided by the members of the award committee, chaired by Martha Ney and including Carmen Gass, Tara Murray, Karla Schmit, John Shank, and Ann Thompson.

Dewey congratulated the award winners during her presentation of the awards, stating, “I am very proud of your accomplishments, commitment and dedication in making our library system one of the best in the nation.”