2015 Recipients of the Library Excellence Award

Library Excellence Awards are given to professional librarians and classified staff in the University of Texas Libraries who have made extraordinary contributions.

Donna Coates:  There really hasn't been anything she has been unwilling to undertake whether serving on strategic planning committees, the Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) steering committee, or overseeing iSchool student Capstone projects.

We have a very small staff in the archive and rely heavily on each other and Donna is an indispensable member of the team who makes this archive work.

Without our finding aids, no one would know what we have and would have to come to the archive to find out. Now people all over the world have access to what we have to offer and researchers have Donna to thank for this. When we get new collections, Donna makes receipt inventories, assigns locations, and creates processing plans just so researchers will have access to the material. All of her technical service skills translate into our ability to offer exemplary customer service.

Donna is continually open to learning new technologies to support her work in the archives--from XMetal and Oxygen for Encoded Archival Description to Dreamweaver and Drupal for web content, Donna has learned and then taught students to use new tools for describing and providing access to collections.

Donna is a natural educator contributing to higher education. Just ask the hundreds of students she has worked with over the past 10 years.  She is part of the reason students seek out the Alexander Architectural archive for their coursework and Capstone projects.

This has enabled the archive to create a strong network throughout the state and even the U.S.  With her alums now in positions from Baylor to Aggieland! And from Los Angeles to Sarasota Florida.

(one student writes…) Donna continuously makes the effort to include me in meetings with archivists all over the university and pushes me to publish articles, present at conferences, and highlight the work I have completed at the Alexander, with her immensely valuable guidance. Her assistance, her positive attitude, and her baking over the past five semesters have been instrumental to my success as a soon to be archival professional.

Donna works with many iSchool students making sure the theory they learn in class becomes grounded in reality through their experience in the archive. She allows the students to explore their interests and plan and execute projects that will also benefit the archive. She makes sure they all have a chance to learn at least some of what is unique about our archive and best practices to take with them into the real world. As a role model Donna demonstrates to the students the important skills of having a professional work ethic, a positive attitude and a sense of humor.

She works to make sure everyone is welcome, fostering an encouraging and friendly environment for everyone. When someone comes in with questions or needing assistance, Donna goes out of her way to make sure the patron or co-worker leaves with the most information available.

She has given the University of Texas a legacy that will endure for many years to come.

Wendy Martin:  Wendy is an excellent manager, both in terms of supervising staff and in prioritizing tasks and workflows.  She can take on any situation that arises--a last minute request to appear Fox 7’s Good Day Austin to talk about digital preservation, articulating our HVAC needs concerning desiccant wheels to campus facilities, coming in during the December holiday break to deal with two hampers of books with silverfish, forging paths with digital forensic tools and workflows, and working with campus energy stewards to analyze environmental data from data loggers (and those are just a few examples from the past year).  In every situation, no matter how challenging, Wendy exhibits patience and professionalism, and she makes it look easy.

Wendy chooses the right people for the right roles.  She selects the right mix of individual skills, so the whole team can thrive.

I’ve learned to model myself after good team leaders like Wendy.  She recognizes individual abilities and is dedicated to ongoing development of effective workplace habits that help to ensure measurable success and goal achievement. Thanks to her I am better able to thrive in my role in the workplace.

Her customer service orientation (both internal and external) is what I most appreciate about her work.  I especially want to thank her for the several roles she played in getting the first 10 years of the Daily Texan into the UTDR, and getting the Texas State Adopted Textbook Lists in there as well.  From helping us with orders of acid-free boxes to handling the logistics of the digitization of more than 130 years of the UT Publications and Bulletins, her work has many success stories.

A recent example of this happened out at Library Storage Facility (LSF) when we were having issues with the air conditioner in the storage facility.  This is the kind of problem that can make some people start to panic ("What if all the books are ruined!"), but not Wendy.  She helped me work through the problem, define the risk, and address the issue in a very pragmatic and positive way.  Her work on monitoring and analyzing conditions at LSF ensures that the books are safely preserved.

Wendy has been a terrific ally of the Texas Digital Library for many years, including serving on two working groups and providing tremendous counsel as TDL has pursued digital preservation strategies.

The preservation of UT Libraries’ most precious objects is in excellent hands under Wendy. During the past year, she has helped initiate a project to design new housings for our Relaciones Geograficas collections. This much overdue rehousing of our colonial gems is now underway thanks to Wendy and her team, and our RG maps will soon be both much easier to store and handle safely and securely, and also more elegant in their presentation to visitors, researchers and students.

Wendy recently took the lead in drafting much of the documentation needed in the recent revamping of our Exhibits Loan policy and procedures.

She is one of those individuals who possesses a holistic view of Library operations, listens closely and carefully, and offers well-thought-out, tempered, and sensible contributions.

Wendy always goes above and beyond her regular responsibilities to assist her colleagues and to make the library a better place.

José Montelongo:  José joined the Benson in January 2013 as an experienced Latin American scholar, writer, and journalist, but new to librarianship. He tackled this new challenge with drive and eagerness to contribute to the Benson team and quickly exceeded all of our expectations. As Mexican Materials specialist, he’s become a primary liaison for researchers, students, and visitors to our extensive Mexican collections.

In 16 months he has led scores of visits for UT students and faculty, visiting researchers, and VIP guests of the university such as the Tec de Monterrey University Board of Trustees and the Mexican Consul Generals of Texas.

Nowhere has José’s service in representing the Benson and UTL been more exemplary than in the critical, ongoing role he’s played in UT’s acquisition of the Gabriel Garcia Márquez Papers. José accompanied HRC director Steve Ennis to Mexico City to assess the documents and meet with the author’s family last summer, and in the months since has become UT’s spokesperson for the acquisition to the Spanish speaking world.

José is equally skilled in teamwork. Those of us on the Global Studies Subject Team are lucky to work alongside him as we go about the business of establishing ourselves.

The role of Benson head bibliographer has long been a one-person operation. But since Jose has taken over he has made it much more collaborative.

Jose has been an amazing colleague since the day he arrived. He has thoroughly delved into the Benson’s collections, and daily he shows me some fascinating resource he has discovered that enriches my knowledge of our collections. We work together constantly on projects to clean up our circulating collections--deduplication projects, materials reclassifications, stacks shifting--and he tackles each new project energetically and thoughtfully. His big-picture view always adds a perspective I hadn’t considered, and I know that my approach to these projects has improved as a result.

Finally, for me the reason José is most deserving of this award is his consistently gracious and generous demeanor.  He has an intellectual and scholarly take on the world but at the same time he is kind, funny and warm.

We need more librarians like José.