MIT Libraries staff honored with 2021 Infinite Mile Awards

Staff were recognized for keeping spirits up and services running despite a difficult year.

The MIT Libraries celebrated the outstanding contributions of its employees in June with its 2021 Infinite Mile Awards ceremony. The online ceremony had a summer camp theme and featured an art and crafts showcase, funny pet photos, and recorded 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.

Bringing out the best

Serving as interim music librarian while also continuing to lead the Libraries’ Community Building and Engagement program, Nina Davis-Millis is known for dreaming big. The creator of the Institute-wide program MIT Reads, she “had the creative vision to recognize the power of a community built around books, reading, and conversation,” according to one colleague. Considered a leader and a mentor, Davis-Millis will inevitably respond to a new idea with, “How can we make it work?”

Innovation, creativity, and problem solving

The Distinctive Collections Restart Team not only had to set up a pop-up workspace in a new building, they also had to build new workflows on a new request system, all while juggling the challenges that Covid restrictions threw their way. For inventing new ways of providing the community remote access to materials and services that were previously only available physically, this award went to Ashlynn August, Mattie Clear, Myles Crowley, Jana Dambrogio, Neal Johnson, Grace Johnson-DeBaufre, Ayako Letizia, Jess Myers, and Jenn Morris.

Results, outcome, and productivity

The support staff of Lewis Music Library and the department of Information Delivery and Library Access was instrumental in planning the Libraries’ return to on-campus work. “They rolled with a constantly changing landscape as the state, MIT, and the Libraries navigated the Covid crisis, and did so with a thoughtful and patron-centered focus,” said one colleague. Team members include Moses Carr, Astride Chery, Ashley Clark, Lara Day, Jim Eggleston, Cate Gallivan, Allyson Harper-Nixon, Jessica Holmes, Samuel Hong, S. Kohler, Forrest Larson, Georgina Lewis, Maura Liggio, Donald Long, Howard Martin, Jacky Martin, Alyssa Maynard, Jessa Modell, Jonathan Paul, Daniel Pribble, Jessica Shrey, Pixie Rose, Maria Walsh, Jaclyn Wilson, and Hannah Winkler.

Unsung heroes

Hailed for his focus on providing the best possible service to library patrons, Access Services Assistant Jonathan Paul is known for his reliability, kindness, and easy communication. Praised for being warm and open when interacting with student employees, Paul was also recognized for his inquisitiveness and eagerness to learn, taking classes every semester to increase his knowledge and skills.

When a gargantuan project needed a guiding hand, head of Data and Specialized Services Howard Silver was willing to dive right in. He brought his prodigious knowledge of library services and understanding of construction, logistics, operations, and architecture to the Hayden Library and Building 14 Courtyard renovation projects. Lauded for being “reasonable, kind, and calm,” Silver deftly coordinated the work of many internal and external stakeholders to help get the renovation over the finish line.

Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award

Known for being an excellent listener and genuinely interested in others and their welfare, Human Resources Assistant Sam Locke was called “a rock of support within chaos, particularly through the pandemic.” One nominator noted, “They are constantly trying to spread positivity and cheer even in the most stressful of situations.” As driven as they are generous, Locke handles difficult situations with graceful professionalism, has a flair for problem-solving, and takes initiative, shepherding work along when others aren’t sure where to start.