University Libraries honors 2023 employee award recipients

2023 Univ Libraries Awards Winners

Penn State University Libraries’ 2023 employee award recipients include, top row from left: Ally Laird, Margaret Knoll Spangler Oliver Award; Andrew Dudash and Rebekah Hill, Collaboration/Teamwork Award; Diane Zabel, University Libraries Award; second row from left: Danica White, Diversity Award; Heather Ross and Rachel Killoren Corp, Shirley J. Davis Staff Excellence Award; bottom row from left: Dan Peters, Margaret Knoll Spangler Oliver Award; Emily Reed, Diversity Award; Scott Wagner, Part-Time Employee Excellence Award; Alexandria Chisholm, Teaching Award.

Credit: Chris Blaska / Other Photos Provided

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries recognized 11 outstanding faculty and staff on May 31, from among its more than 500 employees. Faculty and staff based at the Penn State Berks, Harrisburg and University Park campuses were recognized. Faye Chadwell, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, presided over an awards ceremony to continue a tradition of recognizing employees that spans at least 49 years.

Allyson Laird, open publishing program coordinator, Research Informatics and Publishing, and Dan Peters, systems design specialist, Libraries Strategic Technologies, received the 2023 Margaret Knoll Spangler Oliver Award. This award, named for a 20-year University Libraries employee, is presented for outstanding service and successful performance of an employee of the University Libraries.

Laird began her employment with the Libraries in 2017 as open publishing program specialist. Her nominators provided many examples of her high level of positivity and dedication to the Libraries’ and University’s missions, such as numerous responsibilities with committee and association work. One supporter wrote, “I have seen her support the employees in her unit, carefully considering their needs and encouraging their interests. I often turn to her with questions about management and leadership.” Laird received a bachelor’s degree in English communications from Lebanon Valley College in 2013 and is currently working on a master’s degree in communications from Penn State Harrisburg.

Peters began his Penn State career with the Libraries in November 2015, having previously worked as a service technician for M&T Bank. He implemented self-service for the Libraries’ desktop computers and improved software build and reimaging processes to have the lowest possible impact on employees and students. In addition to his technical competency and innovation, Peters’ supporters praised his positive attitude and exceptional interactions with others. “(Dan) has clearly taken on responsibilities beyond his core responsibilities and continues to demonstrate dedication to his work by his willingness to provide support and leadership,” said one supporter. Peters is a 2007 alumnus of Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology.

Heather Ross, map specialist, Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information, and Rachel Killoren Corp, administrative assistant, dean’s office, received the Shirley J. Davis Staff Excellence Award. Named for a former employee who assisted the Libraries’ directors and deans for more than four decades, the award honors outstanding service of employees who create a nurturing, encouraging and inspiring workplace and demonstrate excellence and professionalism in their field.

Ross’ work has benefited individuals both inside and outside the University. She helped organize barcoding and cataloging work that was crucial in locating thousands of World War II maps of Eastern Europe that were stolen in 2018. Her investment in student workers results in new content for digital collections and use of programs like WordPress and ArcGIS to build digital exhibits. Ross is described as a supportive supervisor whose coaching role leads to autonomous employees who regularly produce high-quality work. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Syracuse University and began her career at the University Libraries in 2001.

Corp manages a large workload affecting most Libraries employees. She is solutions focused and has improved workflows by facilitating digitization of Libraries forms and updating policies with current information. Corp, who holds a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Bowling Green State University, began her career with the Libraries in January 2020.

Diane Zabel, Benzak Business Librarian and head of the William and Joan Schreyer Business Library, received the University Libraries Award, given to a member of the University Libraries holding an academic or staff appointment who has contributed significantly by his or her performance to the operations of the University Libraries. 

Zabel has been a full-time librarian at Penn State since 1986. She is passionate about helping students navigate the research process for success in the classroom and workplace. Zabel was the 2015 recipient of a University-wide President’s Award for Engagement with Students. She served as interim dean for the Libraries in 2021, and has also served on the University Promotion and Tenure Committee. She has edited or co-edited several journals and books and held several elected positions with the American Library Association.

Emily Reed, reference and instruction librarian at Penn State Harrisburg, and Danica White, coordinator for undergraduate research and engagement, University Park, received the Diversity Award, which recognizes extraordinary commitment and/or contributions to enhancing the Libraries’ environment of mutual respect for differing backgrounds and points of view as well as those who have championed the causes of diversity and climate.

Reed’s focus and dedication are most apparent with the large number of international students at the Harrisburg campus, where she has worked since 2019. She serves on the steering group for the Libraries’ Diversity Community of Advocacy (DCOA) and as co-chair of the DCOA Race and Racism Working Group; collaborated to create an International Student Welcome Guide; and piloted the Personal Librarian Program for international students. Reed has integrated tenets of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) into her collection development and served on the International, Intercultural, Community and Diversity Affairs Committee organized by Penn State Harrisburg’s Faculty Senate. She is active in the Pennsylvania Library Association, LOEX (formerly Library Orientation Exchange) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), for which she served as an elected member of the Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section Standing Committee. Reed received a master of library and information science (M.L.I.S.) degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014.

As coordinator for undergraduate research and engagement, White contributes to creating a welcoming campus climate, retaining a diverse student body, developing a curriculum that fosters cultural competence and creating change at the organizational level. In her other role as student engagement librarian, she infuses her commitment to DEI into the student engagement experience and advances the field of librarianship through her research into investigating Black undergraduate students’ experiences in libraries. According to one supporter, “Danica is building a national reputation on her research, thus helping to change not only the Libraries but the profession.” White began her Penn State career in 2019, the same year she received her master of library science (M.L.S.) degree from Emporia State University.

Alexandria Chisholm, reference and instruction librarian at Berks Thun Library, Penn State Berks, received the University Libraries Teaching Award, which honors a faculty or staff member with a teaching component as part of their primary assignment who has excelled in teaching and/or created an exemplary and innovative instruction program with an emphasis on the past year.

Chisholm is known as an outstanding instructor with a record of providing high-caliber, student-oriented experiences. Her efforts have led to a robust growth in the number of instructional partnerships. Chisholm joined the Libraries in September 2016 and currently serves as the campus liaison to the Science Division as well as the library's first-year engagement coordinator. She earned her M.L.I.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and holds a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Andrew Dudash, librarian for political science and policy studies and government information, and Rebekah Hill, music and performing arts librarian, received the inaugural Collaboration/Teamwork Award, given in recognition of a collaboration or team within the University Libraries that substantially benefited the Libraries or Penn State community.

Dudash and Hill were recognized for their collaboration on the inaugural Political Song Series, described by one supporter as “an excellent example of cross-unit collaboration” that included students, community residents and employees from at least two other University units. The result was an inclusive team featuring performances of different languages, instruments, generations, cultures, abilities, countries and time periods. One supporter wrote, “Andrew and Rebekah led this team effectively and accomplished this amazing event (that was) an excellent example of our Libraries strengthening the community and overcoming obstacles such as censorship and other challenges.”

Dudash started his position at Penn State in February 2018. Previously he worked at Juniata College. Hill began her Penn State career in October 2021. Prior to this, she was a music librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for 22 years. She earned a bachelor's degree from Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford, and a master's degree from the University of Notre Dame, both in piano performance. She holds an M.L.I.S. from the University of Pittsburgh.

Scott Wagner, a part-time staff member at Berks Thun Library, Penn State Berks, received the inaugural Part-Time Employee Excellence Award honoring a colleague who typically works 24 hours or less each week but whose initiative, peer support and outstanding performance have contributed to a positive working environment that has made an impact on the Libraries, colleagues or Penn State community. Wagner contributed to the creation of ShelfReader, an award-winning software application that drastically simplifies shelf-reading and inventory-taking within libraries. The software has been released on Github for other users to implement and adapt and received the 2020 Best Emerging Technology Application Award from Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the ALA. Wagner published an article on ShelfReader in the journal Information Technology and Libraries and presented at a RUSA webinar. He has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education (English) from Kutztown University and has worked at Thun Library since 2018.

Selecting recipients of the 2023 Libraries awards from among nominees were members of the University Libraries Awards Committee: Jackie Dillon-Fast, supervisor, Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Global News Center, William and Joan Schreyer Business Library, chair; Richard Stringer, library services associate, William and Joan Schreyer Business Library; Carmen Gass, education program coordinator, User Services; Tom Reinsfelder, head librarian, Mont Alto Campus Library, Penn State Mont Alto; Andrea Pritt, STEM librarian, Madlyn L. Hanes Library, Penn State Harrisburg; Shane Burris, resource sharing systems coordinator, Interlibrary Loan; Stephanie Diaz, reference and instruction librarian, John M. Lilley Library, Penn State Behrend; Kristi Addleman Ritter, reference and instruction librarian, Mont Alto Campus Library, Penn State Mont Alto; and Wendi Keeler, associate director of stewardship and events, Development and Alumni Relations, adviser.

For more information about the University Libraries Awards, contact Wendi Keeler at [email protected].