2016 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.

Colleen Lyon

This is how Colleen has made extraordinary contributions:  She knows things that the rest of us (members of the university community and staff) need to know and want to know.  She is willing to share what she knows, to use minimal jargon, to keep a positive attitude, and to keep us feeling positive.

Not to minimize the role of others but I see that Colleen:  Has been a driving force in establishing and building the institutional repository.  Offers sessions for us so that we may better understand copyright, open access, author rights, and permissions.  Is kind and reassuring when others are tense.  When I’ve referred upset or frantic people (with their copyright and permissions concerns) to her, she has been great.  She responds quickly and confidently with the needed information.  Keeps going even when some of the outreach efforts have been discouraging.

And I will add a near-quote from a colleague, “Of course it was well done; Colleen was in charge.”

Colleen Lyon has been a fantastic colleague and I am nominating her for a Library Excellence Award. Colleen is engaged, responsive, thorough, well organized, and shows both imagination and initiative. She has shepherded our nascent repository presence into a broad, deep resource that reaches fully across the University of Texas, and accomplishes our goals of opening UT scholarship to the wider world.

Colleen is very active in professional affairs at the regional and national level, yet still finds time for lots of outreach to the local library and UT community and never fails to respond to individual queries promptly and effectively. I have put Colleen in touch with a number of faculty about projects, and have had excellent feedback from them about her assistance.

Colleen is practical, but has a strong vision for scholarly communication in a new technological environment. She is not hampered by disciplinary blinders, and works effectively across the various research areas of the University. Even with a dedicated disciplinary base, it is not easy to build program support, but Colleen has managed to make Texas ScholarWorks relevant across the entire campus.

In addition to a huge and detailed workflow, Colleen sustains broad involvement in Library committee work, and is always a positive contributor. She also serves on the faculty Senate IT committee, which alone is a testament to her importance in scholarly communication on this campus.

Specifically, Geology has had a number of projects that have been challenging, and Colleen has always worked to come up with quick, workable solutions, and has found a way to get our materials up with a minimum of hassle and bureaucracy. I am particularly grateful to have colleagues such as Colleen who have strong skills, excellent work ethic, and are good communicators. Colleen is a huge asset to the UT Libraries, and richly deserves the Library Excellence award.

Ishtiak Rahman

Ishtiak Rahman regularly goes above and beyond in all the areas we look for in a library excellence award winner.  His role requires him to be a part of at least three teams – the facilities and IT group, the research help and circulation desk, and teaching and learning services.  The computer help desk is front and center in our busy computer lab, and Ishtiak and his students handle requests and issues from users that cover the spectrum of facilities, IT, circulation, and service.

In 2015 we started a pilot public speaking space with the Sanger Center that is adjacent to the computer help desk.  Ishtiak was a key member of the team working with Michele Ostrow to make this work seamlessly for our students who use the service.  He was the person who spoke with each new public speaking consultant and helped them get set up and work in tandem with the computer help desk students to pass requests back and forth.
Ishtiak has also played a key role in the Learning Commons.  He and his staff cheerfully took on the task of supporting the technology in the new learning labs to make sure that all the instructors felt prepared and trained to use the system.  When things went wrong, Ishtiak’s team was there to fix it. I really appreciate Ishtiak for understanding the mission of PCL and taking responsibility for seeing things through.  He will advocate for users who have any question or problem and follow up with the main service desk, TLS, RLS, or anyone else he needs to engage.  Everyone knows Ishtiak and I only hear positive things from his peers about working with him.  I hope you will see fit to give him this award.

I'm glad to be nominating Ishtiak Rahman for this award. There are very few on staff here in the libraries that have not been directly impacted by Ishtiak's dedication to service and helpful nature.  Ishtiak's approach to staffing the proctor service is efficient and reliable and one that he seemingly had to build as he learned. The first semester the Learning Commons Learning Labs were being used, Ishtiak and his team were ready right away. He was always reliable and willing to change his approach as we all learned about the Labs. And maybe not a lot of people know this, but the labs were a mess at first--equipment breakdowns were frequent. The spring semester has been much smoother because Ishtiak learned quickly the most efficient approach to responding to issues.  I appreciate his responsiveness. Ishtiak understands that when someone is contacting him, it is urgent. He is always walking around with that laptop checking email and popping in to make sure things are going well. He understands how busy we are and works hard to make sure he and his staff support us as we teach.  Ishtiak served on a hiring committee with me this semester for a  new position that will support our learning lab use with internal staff and external campus partners. I was able to rely on him to give me insights into the technical expertise and service-orientation of each candidate. I was glad he was there to let me know if the person we were hiring would work well with his approach to the labs.  Many on staff, including me, appreciate how easy it is to communicate with Ishtiak. It's not just that he is there, it is that he is listening and responding. You don't have to tell him twice. He is always a clear communicator. He tells you what he thinks he should do to solve an issue, asks you follow up questions, and checks in once the issue has been fixed to make sure you're ok with the outcome and solution. And, last but not least, Ishtiak is friendly and caring. It's nice to be able to turn to someone who never seems like he is overburdened or annoyed with your requests. He is a kind and supportive colleague. Thanks for considering this nomination for Ishtiak. He is most deserving.

Ishtiak is not only one of the hardest working people in the library but he is also one of the most friendly and cheerful. He is always willing to lend a hand when we are having technical issues, or have random questions about the systems in the lab. He consistently goes above and beyond to make sure that we, and our patrons, are satisfied and taken care of. I honestly don't know how we would survive without him.

I nominate Ishtiak Rahman for a Libraries Excellence Award.  I have worked with Ishtiak since he  was a student worker on the Computer Help Desk and even in that role he demonstrated the characteristics deserving of a Libraries excellence award in his commitment to customer service and to being a team player.  When the Learning Commons opened in Fall 2015, I began to work more closely with Ishtiak and quickly realized how we really couldn’t provide the services and technologies in the Learning Commons without him.   Ishtiak runs the proctor service that staff from UTL, the Writing Center and from campus partners rely on to get laptops and iPads for instructors, and close and open the wall in the largest learning lab.  The needs change daily but I know that all I have to do is add our requests to the proctor calendar and they will be taken care of.  This level of service is only possible because Ishtiak trains his proctors well and watches the service so closely.  When his students can’t come in, he is there to do the work, often arriving early and staying late to make sure this is done.  He also checks in with instructors and troubleshoots technology issues on the spot, giving his personal cell number to everyone who teaches in case they need him during class.  A faculty member who teaches a semester long course in a Learning Lab has said how helpful Ishtiak is in making sure he can successfully teach his class.  Ishtiak is not only extremely customer service oriented, but he is a great communicator and team player.   He always shares information about any issues in the Labs or schedule changes and is constantly checking in to make sure things are working for us and see if there is any way he can improve things.  He never turns down a request and has even agreed to take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to serve on the search committee for our Library Specialist.  In addition to his stellar support of the learning labs, Ishtiak also serves as a back-up in our Media Lab, training his CHD proctors to help in that space, checking on the Media Lab when the Lab Manager is out and cross-training the Media Lab interns as well.  He builds a team ethic across unit lines and really considers himself to be a part of every team he supports.  As a person who works on the PCL Service Desk, I also see him doing the same with staff there–communicating about printing, scanning, CHD and computer issues, resolving problems quickly and always being available to provide excellent customer service.  His commitment to our users and our staff, his hard work (really harder than anyone should work), hi desire to always improve things and his ability to build a team spirit and cooperation across the Libraries makes things work for users and staff.  Thank you for considering him.

Krystal Wyatt-Baxter

I can think of no one more deserving of the Library Excellence award than Krystal Wyatt-Baxter.  As evidenced by her recent promotion, her work performance is exemplary - she identifies and  grapples with issues in the libraries consistently and effectively, using data and feedback to create positive changes.  Observing her assessment efforts has made me re-think how I conceive and alter projects.  It is no longer enough to feel that something has or has not gone well or is or is not a good idea.  Working with Krystal has instead allowed me to think about gathering and using evidence to make these decisions.

Krystal excels on her own projects, of course, but she is also wonderful to work with.  She is a creative and conscientious colleague, who is always willing to help on any project, assessment-related or not.  I often pop into Krystal’s office to bounce ideas around with her, and no matter what I’m workin on, Krystal offers excellent advice and novel solutions to problems.  She is always welcoming, too, and when you are as busy as Krystal, that is a gift.  I am so lucky to work with someone who is fun to see every day, and who approaches work with the idea that we all have a common goal and will be better able to succeed together. Krystal is also wonderful at working with library users and campus partners.  She is available to students and faculty, patiently guiding students through their research process and encouraging faculty to support information literacy in their courses.  The same willingness to assist members of TLS with our projects is evident in her interactions with anyone from outside the library.  People learn very quickly, as I did, that Krystal is willing to help and that she is terrifically capable.  Students come out of her classes knowing they can get research help from her, and faculty leave consultations with new partners in teaching.

Krystal is awesome in so many ways, but the fact that she built the assessment program in TLS and will now be bringing her assessment expertise to the rest of the libraries should not be ignored.  Even if she wasn’t an exemplary teammate, teacher, and ambassador for the library, just this contribution to our work and culture would be enough to justify awarding Krystal the prize for Library Excellence.  She does have all of those other qualifications, however, making this award something she very much deserves.

I nominate Krystal Wyatt-Baxter, Learning and Assessment Librarian, for a Library Excellence Award. Krystal is a knowledgeable, approachable service provider and a logical, methodical assessment steward for a range of projects within Teaching & Learning Services and more recently, across the UT Libraries. While I’ve worked with Krystal prior to convening the Scholars Commons Working Group, it was her advisory role for that group and her work as author and coordinator of the Scholars Commons Pilot assessment plan that provided the opportunity for me to observe her gracious nature, even temperament, reliability and deep expertise. Each time I’ve met with Krystal to plan activities or discuss an approach to assessment, she has been patient, generous with her time, reassuring and supportive. It has been a revelation to realize that she seeks input on what she thinks could be done, incorporates it, and then does the work without any additional effort or involvement on my part. This is the epitome of collegiality, teamwork and exemplary customer service. I’ve grown to value Krystal’s ability to parse complexity and respond to challenges with a positive, pragmatic approach that instills confidence and delivers results. She’s reviewed several evaluation forms for events in the Scholars Commons and others planned in collaboration with co-sponsors, and her feedback is consistently prompt, insightful and actionable. When I’ve seen Krystal in action, representing the UT Libraries at the ACRL 2015 Conference Poster Sessions and in meetings with campus partners and professional services providers, I’m grateful that she applies herself to the work she does, is willing to consider and try new things, and makes it clear that she is sincerely interested in communicating and improving the many ways the UT Libraries contributes to the impressive things that happen for our students, faculty and the staff on our campus and beyond. Her individual and team-based work, user-centered focus, and diligence are deserving of this award.

Krystal Wyatt-Baxter is a deserving candidate for the library excellence award. Last year I started working much more closely with Krystal as she began to transition from her role in TLS to her new role as our UTL Assessment Librarian. Krystal is a great colleague and fosters teamwork in all of her work. She did great work in assessing the Scholars Commons and the Learning Commons, and we’ve made changes to those spaces and services as a result of her findings. She insists that each assessment plan should have clear goals that are specific to what we are evaluating, and she works closely with her colleagues who are experts in that area to make sure we are asking the right questions.

I am also very impressed with Krystal’s patience and professionalism. She is leading our effort to participate in a university accreditation in 2016 and has brought great insight and leadership to that team. She’s both sympathetic to the time demands the work puts on the team but also expects results (and gets them).

Finally, she has stepped up into a larger role with grace and confidence. She did not leave behind any of her TLS commitments when she accepted her new position, and instead insisted that we transition in a way that would let her do both jobs until her old position was filled. She is a team player who does what is needed to make sure all the key things are done well and on time.

Krystal is a patient, reliable and supportive colleague and moving forward without her close collaboration in Teaching & Learning Services with the same level of excellence will be difficult. As she transitions to a more library-wide role, I want her work for us in TLS to be recognized. Surely, there is no greater recognition of one’s work than to be re-classified in a more senior position with more responsibilities, but we here in TLS would not be where we are today without her innovation, judgement, and insightfulness. Krystal wrote assessment plans for our unit, for the learning commons and for the scholars commons. These are polished, organized and realistic plans that aid us in making strategic decisions about the services we offer and the spaces we build. Krystal’s plan assures us that we are not making choices in the dark - that the data we collect will guide us. Her assessment has saved our unit valuable man hours. When we have been understaffed or overbooked, Krystal’s assessment has guided us in streamlining our efforts. We have altered our approach to the Freshman Year Interest Groups (FIGs) and to our web presence because of the data she has collected. Her recommendations have made us more efficient and enabled us to reach more students, all while cutting down on man hours. She has helped me directly as I revamped our approach to the Rhetoric 398t, RHE 306/309 programs. She helped me to build and conduct a focus group and survey with instructors so as to best concentrate my efforts in the help materials I write and the visits I make to this group. Her oversight of our assessment of student work allows me to make informed recommendations to the department and program about the skills students need help building. I have been able to influence the assignments and pedagogical approaches because of this data.

Krystal is an integral part of the space and service decisions in the Learning Commons and Scholars Commons - and she continues to assess those spaces and the student activities therein. Her data collection has led to altering our approaches to signage and to software we installed. Her creative approaches to collecting qualitative data allows us interesting insights into who uses our space and what matters to them. I really feel like our library is able to do more with less because of Krystal. The data she collects and the creative approaches to gathering data allows us to be targeted.

Krystal also makes an effort to seek knowledge and stay abreast of the latest trends in library assessment by networking with professionals from other institutions as well as with assessment coordinators here on the UT campus. She meets with her campus assessment counterparts regularly and seeks their support with tough data dilemmas. I think Krystal is a model for how we should conduct collaborations with and maintain awareness of the activities in other units on campus.

Krystal makes her expertise available to librarians who want to incorporate assessment into their work or to those who would like to assess services within the organization. It’s an amazing asset to be able to pop into her office (and she always seems to have the time to listen to me fumble around with my work) and work together to develop a clear and concise way to gather data in a class or assignment I am working on. Krystal’s expertise is not just gathering data and crunching numbers - it’s identifying what kind of data we need, what kind of questions we need to ask in order to make decisions. It’s a running joke in our unit now that we find ourselves in other work situations repeating some form of Krystal’s mantra: “What do you want to know?” It’s how she starts many conversations about assessment and it ensures that in whatever endeavor we find ourselves, we should start by analyzing what information we want. From that point, we can decide what questions to ask and how to ask them.

It’s such a comfort to be able to rely upon Krystal’s expertise and I am glad that her influence will extend more meaningfully beyond our unit. We are so lucky to have had Krystal in our unit and I am so glad to be nominating her for this award. She is most deserving.

I nominate Krystal Wyatt-Baxter. Krystal consistently demonstrates superior work performance as TLS’ Learning & Assessment Librarian. She is an excellent teacher and collaborator with faculty who come back to work with her year after year. She has taken a lead in assessment in TLS, starting our program when she began in our unit and building robust student learning assessment into everything we do. She has done all of this as a team player, involving us in decisions and helping us learn to think in an outcomes-based way. In addition to supporting student learning assessment in TLS, she also has helped librarians across UTL incorporate assessment into their teaching through individual consultations and by providing workshops and tools they can use.

But Krystal has not been content to just do her own job at a level of excellence. For several years she has willingly taken on assessment duties beyond the scope of her regular duties. She did so happily because she is committed to assessment as a way to improve the Libraries for our users and knows that her colleagues rely on her expertise to help them as they develop new services and improve existing ones. In addition to her expertise, her positive attitude and collaborative orientation mean that people from across the organization seek her out to work on projects. The project below show her superior work performance above and beyond her regular job, how she can work on any team and is sought out to do so.

  1. Learning Commons – Krystal conducted student and faculty focus groups as a needs assessment for the Learning Commons. Once it was built, she created and executed an in-depth assessment plan for the first semester and then helped make changes based on those results to improve the Learning Commons for users and staff. She is now planning a study with our campus partners into the impact of the Learning Commons on student success.
  2. Scholars Commons – she served on the working group and helped do needs assessment through surveys and focus groups, and has planned and is executing an assessment plan for the first semester open.She worked with the Fine Arts Library on the assessment piece of a grant for the Foundry.
  3. She consults with all who ask about survey design, including groups as disparate as TDL and TLS.
  4. She has trained a GRA in assessment analysis because this iSchool student was interested in pursuing that in her career.

As you can see, Krystal does not shy away from hard work and extra responsibility. Even when working beyond her job description, she excels at everything she does. Her desire for UTL to provide the best services to users possible drives her work in assessment, teaching and reference. She is a team player and great collaborator. Thank you for considering her.