The MIT Libraries celebrated the exceptional contributions of its employees in June with its 2023 Infinite Mile Awards ceremony. Hosted on campus for the first time since 2019, the awards brought together library staff for arcade game-themed fun and a spirited performance by the libraries' band, The Dust Jackets.
Awardees were nominated by their library colleagues in the categories listed below; individuals and team recipients are listed along with excerpts from the award presentations.
Bringing out the Best
Tangible Monograph Acquisitions Associate Amy Martin Chase demonstrates endless energy for problem-solving and a constant drive to keep the never-ending cycle and management of MIT's collections improving. She has diversified library vendors, processed mountains of monographs, and regularly troubleshoots technology issues, all while being unfailingly kind and patient with colleagues and visitors alike.
Collaboration and Inclusion
Manager for Infrastructure Engineering Christopher Butler was recognized for his efforts to embrace diversity and foster a sense of belonging. Even though his role focuses on technology and engineering, he seizes opportunities to work with staff he doesn't interact with regularly. Lauded by his colleagues for speaking to people “on their terms, making everyone feel welcome and included,” Butler prioritizes genuine and positive collaboration to get work done and to build strong relationships.
Community Building and Engagement
The Community Engagement team of Nina Davis-Millis, Sylvia Figueroa Ortiz, Emily Kramer, and Aya Fujita Ross run the libraries’ events, co-sponsor Institute-wide events, and oversee the use of library community spaces with professionalism, patience, and kindness. Whether organizing an open mic night for the Latinx community or a letter-writing event during Random Act of Kindness Week, the team empowers people at MIT and helps foster connections across the Institute.
Results, Outcome, and Productivity
The Dewey Library service team — Cornelia Photopoulos, Carrie Yates, Francesca Bozor, and Erica Moore — has delivered a level of service you would expect from a veteran team; it’s hard to believe that half the team has been at MIT for 12 months, and the other half only six. Among their endeavors was inventorying the Dewey collection: They scanned and inventoried almost 70,000 items, updated 2,214 items, and recovered 1,742 missing items.
The Library Delivery Team is responsible for the transportation of tangible materials between all library locations. Every new book passes through their hands, and every loan is distributed by this team. Hold requests, scan and deliver requests, course reserves, and packages all get where they need to be because of them. In its unassuming way, the team that makes it all possible — Cam West, Kevin Grant, Kendall Dawson, Pixie Rose, Caitlin Canfield, Galen March, Jessa Modell, and Jonathan Paul — enables the MIT community to get the resources they need for research, teaching, learning, and enjoyment.
Tough Questions/Critical Thinkers
Head of Discovery and Engagement Platforms Tina Pappas is such an integral part of the library community, colleagues often forget that she is a fully remote employee. A skillful meeting facilitator, she allows her colleagues to tackle complex topics like diversity, equity, social justice, inclusion, and belonging, and focuses on improving organizational culture. According to nominators, conversations with Pappas, “even difficult ones, leave you feeling energized and refreshed and ready to do the work.”
Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award
Like the award’s namesake, late library colleague and friend Christine Moulen '94, Renee Hellenbrecht goes above and beyond to make sure her colleagues feel empowered and understood. Showing a tireless work ethic in her role as project coordinator, Hellenbrecht tackles tasks large and small, whether it’s the work behind the scenes of a staff conference or creating and clarifying policy where there was previously confusion. Hailed as a sounding board and confidante, she was described by colleagues as a “champion for those who may not always have a seat at the table.”