University Libraries celebrates faculty and staff with 2017 awards

Employees recognized for outstanding contributions toward success of operations, diversity and inclusion, and innovation
group of five women and one man standing in a row after being honored at a ceremony

Barbara I. Dewey, dean of the University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, far right, presented five annual awards to employees for outstanding contributions toward success of Libraries’ operations, diversity and inclusion, and innovation. The winners, from left to right, were honored May 11: Ann Thompson, Margaret Knoll Spangler Oliver Award; Wendy Stodart, Shirley J. Davis Staff Excellence Award; John Shank, University Libraries Award; Jacqueline Peagler, University Libraries Diversity Award; and Karla Schmit, University Libraries Teaching Award.

Credit: Nathan Valchar, Penn State University Libraries

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State University Libraries honored five staff members for their outstanding contributions toward the success of Libraries’ operations, diversity and inclusion, and innovation. Each spring, award recipients are chosen from a pool of applications submitted by the Libraries' faculty and staff members, who use the nomination process to express their appreciation for the talent, dedication and character of their colleagues.

The 2017 award recipients were announced by Barbara I. Dewey, dean of the University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, at a ceremony on Thursday, May 11, in Foster Auditorium. The award recipients are:

  • Ann Thompson, information resources and services supervisor/manager for the Physical and Mathematical Sciences (PAMS) Library, Margaret Knoll Spangler Oliver Award
  • Wendy Stodart, human resources generalist, Shirley J. Davis Staff Excellence Award
  • John Shank, head librarian, Thun Library, Penn State Berks, University Libraries Award
  • Jacqueline Peagler, monographs cataloger and training coordinator, Cataloging and Metadata Services, University Libraries Diversity Award
  • Karla Schmit, interim head, Education and Behavioral Sciences Library, and assistant director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, University Libraries Teaching Award

Thompson was presented with the Margaret Knoll Spangler Oliver Award. In the nomination letter submitted by Nan Butkovich, head of the Physical and Mathematical Sciences Library, she wrote that Thompson shows a “firm but fair demeanor characterized by a positive, courteous, cooperative attitude,” adding that she makes PAMS an “inclusive environment.” Another library colleague, Stephanie Movahedi-Lankarani, noted that “Ann’s positive attitude, her respect for the viewpoints and work of others, her impressive communication skills, and her commitment to professionalism are the hallmarks of all of Ann’s work.”

The Margaret Knoll Spangler Oliver Award was created in 1995 by sisters Eleanor Smith and Margaret Graham, and other family members of Oliver, as an endowment to honor her memory and her long service to Penn State Libraries. Oliver was a staff member from 1945 to 1965, and she remained active in library circles until her death in 1994. The award recognizes outstanding service by Libraries’ employees who demonstrate successful job performance by combining competence of skills, knowledge of subject matter, and successful interaction with others.

Two common themes were evident in Stodart's nomination for the Shirley J. Davis Staff Excellence Award, as colleagues heralded her dependability and her calm, professional, patient and upbeat personality. Hired by Davis to work at the Libraries more than 30 years ago, Stodart was recognized by Nadine Dietrich in Lending Services for going “above and beyond the duties of her position.”

On behalf of the Commonwealth Campus Libraries Supervisors Action Team, Barbara Lessig nominated Stodart and stated that she has “consistently been outstanding in her professionalism and teamwork and her managerial skills are excellent.” Her human resources colleague Lindsey Harter noted that even during peak times of the semester, which are stressful for those responsible for ensuring staff coverage, she “supports the hiring process calmly, with excellent service as her top priority.”

Shank was selected as the recipient for the University Libraries Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the University Libraries, based on professional contributions that affect the operations of the libraries, elevate respect among the University for the Libraries, reflect achievement in librarianship, and demonstrate leadership and innovation.
One of the first instructional design librarians in the United States, Shank is the founding director of The Center for Learning and Teaching at Penn State Berks. Instrumental in developing the Berks Educational Technology Grant Curriculum Program in 2002, he has directed more than 90 grant projects awarded to 60 faculty. This program initially impacted more than 100 courses and more than 3,500 students.

Some of his contributions to Penn State Berks and the field of library science were included in his nomination letter from Nancy Dewald, reference librarian at Penn State Berks. The creation of the Media Commons and Collaborations Commons in the Thun Library, career-building opportunities for students interested in library science, and the co-founding of the Blended Librarian online community to help other institutions develop instructional design librarian positions are just a few of Shank's contributions that have impacted students, faculty and the world.

The University Libraries Diversity Award, created in 2012, recognizes individuals who demonstrate extraordinary commitment and contributions to enhance mutual respect for differing backgrounds and points of view. Peagler, a champion of the causes of diversity and climate in the University Libraries, was named the recipient for the 2017 award. Brent Stump, music/AV cataloger, nominated Peagler, recognizing her “tireless and focused dedication to diversity issues,” and acknowledged that “the Libraries’ reputation for fostering a diverse and inclusive environment would not be the same.”

With the Libraries since 1984, Peagler is one of the founding members of the University Libraries Diversity Committee and serves on both its Diversity Award Subcommittee and the Civility Committee. She has been a member of the University-wide Martin Luther King Jr. Week Planning Committee and has served on the University Staff Advisory Council, as well as functioning as the Libraries’ sexual harassment officer.

The recipient of the 2017 University Libraries Teaching Award was Karla Schmit, honoring an individual who has excelled in teaching and/or created an exemplary and innovative instruction program during the past year.

Schmit’s experiences as an elementary school teacher, a school librarian, professor and academic librarian span more than three decades. During the last academic year at Penn State, she led 29 classes supporting more than 600 students with the number growing past 6,000 over the last five years. Her breadth of teaching spans from first-year seminar students learning about the Libraries to doctoral candidates in special education.

“A gift not only to the students, but to the instructors on campus as well,” is how Schmit was described by Annette Gregerson, adding she “inspires trust and confidence in the way she teaches.”

University Libraries staff members Nancy Adams, Kendra Boileau, Binh Le, John Meier, and Lana Munip served as members of the award committee, chaired by Joe Fennewald and Martha Ney as vice chair.