UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries recognized seven outstanding faculty and staff on Thursday, May 20, from among its more than 500 employees. Faculty and staff based at Penn State Berks and the University Park campus were recognized. Faye Chadwell, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, presided over a virtual awards ceremony to continue a tradition of recognizing employees that spans at least 47 years.
Aaron Procious, a staff member at the Fletcher L. Byrom Earth and Mineral Sciences Library, and Linda Struble, information resources and services supervisor-manager at the Engineering Library, received the 2021 Margaret Knoll Spangler Oliver Award. This award, named for a 20-year University Libraries employee, is presented for outstanding service and successful performance of an employee of the University Libraries.
Through his work at the Byrom Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) Library, Procious provides assistance in reference, outreach and customer service.
“Aaron continuously demonstrates outstanding excellence and professionalism in his work,” his nominator wrote. “Even though he works part-time, he is a significant contributor to the Libraries and larger University community. His mastery of library materials and investment in getting to know the EMS community help him excel at his job.”
Struble began at the Engineering Library as a part-time employee in 1995 and has held her current position since 2009.
“Linda is an exceptional staff member who has made significant contributions to the success of the Engineering Library and its mission,” said a nominator. “She treats everyone with respect, patience and professionalism, and her IT skills are always in demand. Over 10 years, she has exhibited superior management and supervisory skills and is a constant source of new ideas and innovations for improving services and facilities.”
Jaime Jamison, electronic resources specialist for Acquisitions Services, and Melissa Millar, public services coordinator for Berks Thun Library at Penn State Berks, received the Shirley J. Davis Staff Excellence Award. Named for a former Libraries employee who assisted its directors and deans for more than four decades, the award honors outstanding service of employees who create a nurturing, encouraging and inspiring workplace and demonstrate excellence and professionalism in their field.
Jamison manages the Libraries’ EZproxy server, which enables remote access to the Libraries’ electronic resources, and works with librarians and end users to solve access problems.
“Jaime gives every responsibility the utmost care and attention and is deeply invested in providing the best service in every situation,” wrote one of his nominators. “His positive attitude and collegiality help to create a pleasant work environment. He sees the value in collaboration and works to ensure that all voices are heard. He has vast expertise in electronic resources and access, shares his expertise in helpful ways and contributes to making the Libraries an enjoyable place to work.”
Prior to joining the University Libraries in 2018, Millar worked at the H. Laddie Montague Jr. Law Library at Dickinson School of Law and in public library settings. She was a social worker for a short period of time before combining her passion for helping people with her love of libraries for her current career.
“Melissa continuously demonstrates excellence and professionalism in her work,” her nominator said. “She has taken a leadership role through her service on the Dean’s Staff Advisory Council, the Commonwealth Campus Libraries Supervisor Action Team and the Access Services Council, and is also a valued contributor to the Manager/Supervisor Roundtable. Her questions, insights and encouragement are beneficial to all in attendance. She has made professional development a priority and she is getting a great return on her investment.”
Chris Holobar, manager of lending and reserve services, received the University Libraries Award, given to a member of the University Libraries holding an academic or staff appointment who has contributed significantly by his or her performance to the operations of the University Libraries.
Before joining the University Libraries, Holobar taught undergraduate courses in composition, rhetoric and creative writing at Penn State, an experience he credits with giving him insight into how faculty and students use the Libraries.
“Through the COVID-19 crisis, and even before, Chris has demonstrated his ability to adapt, think creatively and institute services and procedures that serve the best interests of our patrons, staff and community,” wrote his nominator. “When the pandemic necessitated the closure of our public library spaces, Chris worked with stakeholders around the library to support our users and staff. He worked countless hours to ensure our users could access library resources.”
Jackie Dillon-Fast, global news collections and services coordinator in the Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Global News Center and William and Joan Schreyer Business Library, received the University Libraries Diversity Award. This award recognizes extraordinary commitment and/or contributions to enhancing the Libraries’ environment of mutual respect for differing backgrounds and points of view, and recognizes those who have championed the causes of diversity and climate.
Dillon-Fast started her Penn State career in 2005 and was hired full-time at the Libraries in 2007. She served as a team leader on the Barcode Inventory/Google Book Project until 2009 and worked in the former News and Microforms Library for eight years. Dillon-Fast is active in the Pennsylvania Library Association, for which she is past chair of the Juniata–Conemaugh Chapter.
“Through our many efforts to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, Jackie has demonstrated courage to lead difficult conversations,” said her nominators. “She showed leadership, took action on her own, and has shown an ability to connect with many different people. And she has truly internalized a diversity mindset in her work in the Global News Center, where she is ever mindful of the impact of policy decisions on traditionally marginalized students, faculty and staff.”
Kathleen Phillips, nursing and allied health librarian in the Life Sciences Library, received the University Libraries Teaching Award, which honors a faculty or staff member with a teaching component as part of their primary assignment and who has excelled in teaching and/or created an exemplary and innovative instruction program with an emphasis on the past year.
Phillips began her Penn State career as a student worker in the Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library. She worked at BridgeValley Community and Technical College and Marshall University, both in West Virginia, before returning to Penn State in 2017.
“Most notable are Kat’s genuine enthusiasm for working with students, spirit of collaboration with course faculty, and creativity and openness in finding meaningful ways to contribute to students’ learning and development,” wrote one nominator. Another added, “Kat is professional, kind and energetic. I appreciate her humor and collaborative nature, while students appreciate her positive yet constructive feedback. Students are learning to think critically about the resources they use while exploring the world around them. To me that is the epitome of teaching excellence.”
Selecting recipients of the 2021 Libraries awards from among nominees were members of the University Libraries Awards Committee: Susan Houser, monographs cataloger, chair; Emily Mross, business librarian, Penn State Harrisburg Library, chair-elect; Emma Beaver, head librarian, Fayette Campus Library; Margaret Beckner, information resources and services support specialist; Sara Hess, business and entrepreneurship librarian, William and Joan Schreyer Business Library; Linda Klimczyk, IT manager; and Michael Ward, financial assistant.