The MIT Libraries honored the outstanding contributions of its employees June 19 with its Infinite Mile Awards. The theme of this year’s festivities was “thinking outside the box.” An awards ceremony was followed by a celebratory luncheon in Walker Memorial featuring live music by the Libraries staff band.
Director Chris Bourg presented awards to individuals and teams in the categories listed below; award recipients are listed along with excerpts from the award presentations. During this year’s ceremony, the libraries presented the inaugural Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award in memory of late friend and colleague Christine Moulen ’94.
Bringing Out the Best
The team of Habibe Artemiev, project manager/business analyst, and Frances Botsford, web product manager and user experience specialist, was recognized for its work in establishing and acculturating standard work practices for JIRA, a project management software. They created structure and standards that permit flexibility and reduce misunderstandings, and did so in a way that fostered a collegial environment by valuing differences and respecting the unique talents and perspectives of people in the organization. Their efforts resulted in “a major step forward in fostering a productive and healthy work culture,” according to colleagues.
Rich Wenger, e-resource systems manager, and Beth Brennan, metadata systems librarian, dove into a “technical maelstrom” to fill the void left by the loss of colleague Christine Moulen. The team successfully negotiated barriers of all types to keep Aleph, the library system underlying the MIT Libraries Barton catalog, running. Wenger and Brennan pushed the boundaries of what they knew “without fuss or drama,” and with “unfailing generosity of time, spirit, and attention.” The team dug deep to gain new knowledge in order to master the immense intricacies of this complex customized system and made it possible for the Libraries to continue to serve its users.
Results, Outcome, and Productivity
The team of Martina Anderson, Eugenia Beh, Chris Donnelly, Kathy Hamilton, Harolyn Hylton (no longer at MIT), Jake Meaney, Sally Richter, Rich Wenger (ex officio), and Katie Zimmerman (ex officio) showed great energy and focus to keep thousands of the libraries’ electronic resources up and running when MIT sold a portion of its IP address ranges. The team worked swiftly to avoid interruptions in services and developed a workflow that could adapt when curveballs came at them. They completed the project within six months, contacting more than 400 providers and working patiently with each one to get it right.
Project Manager/Business Analyst Caitlin Robles approaches projects in innovative ways, understanding and meeting the needs of project requestors, sponsors, business owners, and stakeholders. She helps teams to uncover root causes of problems or to reframe questions so that projects can move forward. Her approach to work has changed the ways in which others around her approach their own work. Robles uses the power of “no” to enable teams to say “yes” to staying focused and delivering positive outcomes.
Communication and Collaboration
In her role as facilities administrator, Grace Mlady keeps projects moving forward with concise and open communications. She is described as “unfailingly generous with her knowledge,” and someone who “gives quick, honest feedback while considering all possible implications.” Mlady’s blend of patience and professionalism enhances the work experience for all those with whom she collaborates: library colleagues, Institute staff, and external vendors.
Grace Kindeke, administrative assistant in the Director’s Office, takes great care to find, build, strengthen, and maintain connections both within and outside the MIT Libraries. Nominators spoke of her natural ability to lead, facilitate, mediate, and educate with thoughtfulness, respect, kindness, and aplomb. She fully embraces her role on the Libraries’ Committee for the Promotion of Diversity and Inclusion; she helped organize the Black Lives Matter bookmobile; and she is an essential part of the Administrative Assistants’ Group. Kindeke often steps out of her comfort zone to speak up for others, making staff members feel heard and encouraging a diversity of perspectives on difficult issues.
Tough Questions/Critical Thinkers
Collections Strategist for Arts and Humanities Michelle Baildon consistently engages in difficult dialogues regarding work and organizational culture. She has been devoted to incorporating diversity, inclusion, and social justice into the libraries’ work. Baildon has been called “the conscience of the libraries” and a “voice of the underrepresented.” Outside of MIT, she has worked for greater inclusion and opportunities for librarians through her work in the American Library Association (ALA) as past president of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, on the ALA Diversity Council, and as a jury member for the Spectrum Scholarship.
Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award
Much like Moulen, Annex Services and User Experience Librarian Melissa Feiden makes wide-reaching contributions to the libraries through “deeds and words that are often subtle.” Feiden is a unifying force on teams, helping groups focus on priorities and where they can do impactful work. With another colleague, Feiden formed a lunch series for middle management to promote cohesion between staff members and to share information and expertise. Caring deeply about her colleagues, she volunteers for initiatives and proposes ideas that make the libraries’ staff stronger, as individuals and as an organization.