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MIT Libraries staff honored with 2022 Infinite Mile Awards

Seventeen staffers lauded for providing outstanding service, supporting their colleagues, and exemplifying the Libraries’ values.
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A three-by-three grid of headshots of MIT Libraries staff members
Top row, l-r: Joe Carrano, Allyson Harper-Nixon, and Ece Turnator. Middle row, l-r: Helen Bailey, Matt Bernhardt, and Wilder J. Moss. Bottom row, l-r: Cherry Ibrahim, Jess Mallo, and Rob Caplin. Not pictured: Stephanie Hartman, Aaron Hunnewell, Adam Jazairi, Julia Lanigan, Sam Locke, Mikki MacDonald, Jeremy Prevost, and Caitlin Robles.

The MIT Libraries celebrated the exceptional contributions of its employees in June with its 2022 Infinite Mile Awards ceremony. Cleverly orchestrated around a mystery theme, the virtual ceremony featured video skits, a riddle contest, and performances by the libraries' band, The Dust Jackets. 

Awards were presented to individuals and teams in the categories listed below; recipients are listed along with excerpts from the award presentations.

Unsung Hero

With the shift to hybrid work and an emphasis on digital processing and scanning, MIT Distinctive Collections has been especially busy over the past year. Through it all, Digital Archivist Joe Carrano has discreetly kept things running smoothly, whether supervising MIT students and interns, providing users access to digital materials, or assisting with imaging and thesis work. He has also been instrumental in expanding Distinctive Collections’ web archiving program, identifying and running crawls, planning and supervising quality assurance work, and ensuring long-term preservation of web captures.  

Results Outcome and Productivity

Described as “exuberant, knowledgeable, and always ready to dive in and help," Resource Sharing Assistant Allyson Harper-Nixon played a significant role in ensuring that the BorrowDirect service continued while the Libraries transitioned to a new library search platform last year. Her quick-thinking approach and attention to the needs of the community kept BorrowDirect flowing smoothly during a challenging period and was the reason patrons hardly experienced any disruption of services.

Collaboration and Inclusion

Ece Turnator, humanities and digital scholarship librarian, creates opportunities for every instructor, helper, and learner to voice their perspectives and listen to each other. One faculty member said Turnator “listened to my needs, and those of the students, and worked tirelessly to find the right tools, test the tools, and provide feedback and guidance.” Whether working with the Digital Humanities Workshop series or the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, she helps build connections, brings social justice into every facet of her work, and always seeks to give marginalized individuals a voice. 

Tough Questions/Critical Thinker

Acquisitions Associate Julia Lanigan’s commitment to equity encapsulates who she is as a colleague. Described as “an excellent facilitator, leader, and contributor,” she shines as a thought partner, discussion leader, trainer, and promoter for MIT Reads, the Institute-wide reading and discussion program. Lanigan was hailed for her ability to ask questions in a way that “gives permission … for thinking aloud and for admitting gaps in one’s own understanding, which leads to forthright and open communication with people — whether they agree or not.” 

User Service and Support

Senior Cloud Infrastructure Engineer Aaron Hunnewell has had a huge impact on the libraries’ technology infrastructure in a short amount of time. With his technical knowledge and timely questions, he is able to serve and support the MIT community without anyone knowing who was behind it. One colleague noted, “You may not hear from him directly, but he is a dependable voice behind the scenes, resolving issues and addressing concerns, so that our whole organization can continuously improve.”

Innovation, Creativity, and Problem-Solving

Every year, hundreds of theses are generated by MIT’s graduating classes, contributing to a vital and ever-expanding collection of MIT research and knowledge. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Electronic Thesis Delivery Project Team sprang into action to develop a system that could support fully remote students and staff. Nimbly navigating obstacles and communicating with the community, the team not only enabled fully remote digital thesis submission, but also integrated the thesis collection with the libraries’ preservation infrastructure to ensure long-term sustainability of this critical record of MIT’s work. The team includes Caitlin Robles, Mikki MacDonald, Wilder J. Moss, Jeremy Prevost, Helen Bailey, Adam Jazairi, Matt Bernhardt, and Stephanie Hartman.

Community Building and Engagement 

As one colleague put it, the libraries’ human resources team of Cherry Ibrahim, Sam Locke, and Jessica Mallo are “literally building the community of the libraries.” Recruiting 27 new staff members in the last year, the team guided their colleagues on how to facilitate unbiased discussion and evaluation of candidates while maintaining focus on increasing the diversity of candidate pools. The HR team was lauded for their skill in treating each candidate with compassion and care as they move through a process that can often be stressful. 

Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award

A key member of the administrative support team, Rob Caplin has been invaluable in streamlining processes and revamping policies in the libraries. For nearly two years, in addition to performing his own job, he supported another department that did not have an administrative assistant. “He responds to constant, tricky questions and problems quickly and thoughtfully,” said one colleague. Another noted how he handles large volumes of work with “a calm, clear, welcoming demeanor.” Like the award’s namesake, late library colleague and friend Christine Moulen ‘94, Caplin goes the extra mile to support his constituents and shows a genuine interest in helping.

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