Library Recognized with Four Awards

Rachael Franchini ’19, Co-Editor-In-Chief

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The Waidner-Spahr Library has won four awards in the past year, one of which is the “highest award achievable for excellence in information literacy programming,” according to a document prepared by Christine Bombaro ’93, associate director for information literacy & research services, on behalf of the library. 

The American Library Association’s Library Round Table’s (LIRT) award for Innovation in Instruction Award is given to acknowledge a library’s contributions to the support and advancement of information literacy instruction.

“It’s external validation that we’re not just following best practices but we’re creating best practices, which is for us wonderful,” said Eleanor Mitchell, director of library services.

The other awards include the Credo Reference First Year Experience Innovation Award, the Milton E. Flower Historian of the Year Award, which was awarded to the Archives for their work on the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center and the Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award. The Mudge Award honored Mitchell personally, and it is the Reference and User Services Association’s highest honor. 

According to Bombaro, applications for these awards are “pretty intense.” They generally include a narrative statement and letters of support. For the LIRT award, these letters came from Siobhan Phillips, associate professor of English, Susan Rose, professor of sociology, Wendy Moffat, professor of English and Noreen Lape, associate provost of academic affairs and director of the writing center.

“We are a very assessment-driven library,” stated Mitchell. “These awards tell us that our constant improvement is being recognized…by our peers.”

Mitchell and Bombaro both praised the staff in the library for their work.

“We have an amazing staff in the library… I have to make the comment that we have the same size staff that we’ve had since 1986 even though faculty has grown and the departments have grown and the student body has grown, but they [the library staff] are the most dedicated and creative…” Mitchell said,  “I think we have an atmosphere where people feel that they can try new things and nobody gets blamed if something doesn’t work; it’s a learning experience. So, the reason we get these awards and it’s important is because it tells our people that what they’re doing is really great.”

Bombaro called the awards a “testament to the excellence and the dedication that our staff has to teaching students how to use and analyze information.”

The prize money associated with the Credo Reference award and the LIRT award will be put towards the students, Mitchell said. The Credo Reference award money turned into an award for first-year students for research, while the LIRT award will become an award for sophomores and juniors. 

“This is a way that we can take the money, and instead of buying something like book carts, we can keep generating money for our students to be recognized,” Mitchell said.

The Waidner-Spahr Library Prize for Excellence in First Year Research recognized two students this past fall, Tra Pham ’22 and Hoang Vo ’22. The award for sophomores and juniors will be given out for the first time in spring 2020.

Mitchell stated that “…All of the things we’ve been awarded and recognized for really are about our students and how important we all feel the work that we do with students is and if we can help our students learn to be really astute, discerning researchers and use those same skills in academic work, occupations, and life, then our job here is done…”

“…Our job here is started,” added Bombaro, “…Every single staff member that we have keeps that in mind we don’t do any of this work for ourselves we do it because we’re happy to be teachers…We want to see all of our students succeed.”