When science delivered the tri-force of COVID-19 vaccines, most of the international community breathed a sigh of relief—finally, a defense with some teeth. It felt like the tide was turning. “Not so fast,” said the pandemic.
Last November, the Omicron variant arrived and began infecting people like Agent Smith in The Matrix: Reloaded and continues to be a virulent pest affecting life at the University of Rochester.
“These past few years have been unique in many ways and have brought many challenges and obstacles that we've had to face and overcome,” said Kevin Garewal, vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of the University of Rochester Libraries, at a River Campus Libraries student employee appreciation event. “Throughout all of the transition and changes, our student employees were there for us.”
Given the staff shortages that have plagued the country, simply “being there” was a big deal, a point that was emphasized by Garewal delivering his remarks over Zoom—because he had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Words cannot properly express our gratitude for their hard work and devotion during a time of much uncertainty and changing protocols and guidelines,” Garewal said. “The libraries would not have functioned during this time without their help and support.”
In March, a call went out to library supervisors to identify student employees who excelled in service, peer leadership and teamwork, initiative, professionalism, and communication. Ten individuals were nominated, but only two were selected for special recognition.
Meet the 2022 recipients of the Dean’s Student Library Employee Service Award.
Steffi Delcourt ʼ14 (MA) | Office Assistant I
Although this award is meant to be a reflection of one year, Delcourt, a doctoral student in English, has been a paragon of library service since joining Rossell Hope Robbins Library in 2014.
The first time Delcourt stepped foot in Robbins, she was warmly greeted by a student employee, who then took the time to show her around the space and learn her background and interests. She may have had a spell cast on her because she has mirrored that gracious and enthusiastic service ever since.
Delcourt recently completely an exhibit that highlights the Arthurian ephemera (currently on display) and has been instrumental in maintaining The Camelot Project. She also has a long-running digital project, Mapping the Morte d’Arthur, as part of her time as the Robbins Digital Fellow. And that’s the ultra-abridged version.
The best way to get a sense of what makes Delcourt exceptional is to see her through the eyes of Katie Papas, section supervisor at Robbins Library. Get her perspective below.
“On the occasions when we have people who are just discovering Robbins, I always default to her to do the introductions, if she is working, because there is simply no one on staff who does it better.
She is always a kind, knowledgeable and approachable, ensuring that everyone who comes to Robbins has that same experience that she had on her first visit.”
Peer Leadership and Teamwork
“She is motivated by one thing, and that is what is best for the Robbins Library. Her length of service is reason enough to understand her role as a leader on the Robbins staff, but it really is the enthusiasm she brings to even the most mundane things that inspire her colleagues around her.”
“She is an exceptionally active part of the Robbins staff, providing feedback on services and policy and routinely taking on challenges that might be outside of her wheelhouse.
She is as reliable in her creative ideas as she is in her attention to the day-to-day activities of Robbins. We simply could not provide the services, programming, and community that we do without her.”
“When Anna (Siebach-Larson, director of Robbins Library) and I arrived in Robbins, we made changes. Some were small, and some were larger cultural shifts. Steffi took it all in stride and helped other students acclimate to the change.
She brings the highest standards of professionalism to Robbins, and I believe that much of that spirit comes from how much she enjoys her work, enjoys her fellow student colleagues, and reveres the Robbins Library.”
“An area of her work where I simply cannot find fault. I commend her for this regularly, as it’s a key skill for any work environment, and it has enormously contributed to the smooth running of Robbins.”
Ayiana Crabtree ʼ22 | Karp Library Fellow: XR Researcher and XR specialist
If the River Campus Libraries were a restaurant, Crabtree would be a regular. She’s like George Wendt’s character in Cheers; only people don’t yell her name when she enters a room (but they could because they all know her).
Crabtree got her start with the Career Exploration in Librarianship and Mentoring program, an opportunity for students from underrepresented groups to become familiar with the various specializations within the library profession, assist with a library project, and engage with librarians on education and career paths. She then interned with the Robbins Library. Now she’s working in Studio X, Rochester’s hub for extended reality (XR), as a Karp Fellow (which can also be explored here and here). It’s also worth mentioning she’s going to the University of Buffalo—on a full ride through a research position to study the retention of BIPOC librarians—to become a librarian.
Her library career has turned her into a Swiss-army-librarian with the ability to write, illustrate, organize, present, photograph, and edit videos. And although Crabtree has only been with Studio X since February 2021, a person could be convinced it’s been much longer. If more is needed to understand why she won the service award, Meaghan Moody, immersive technologies librarian for Digital Scholarship, provides it below.
“Her dedication to service can be best seen in her research projects.
She first researched how we might better connect with faculty and students from the humanities and social sciences. From that research, she developed an ‘Intro to XR’ workshop, our most popular workshop. She then researched accessibility and XR and partnered with the Office of Disability Resources to create resources for making the workshop accessible to attendees with sensory disabilities.”
Peer Leadership and Teamwork
“Her understanding of Studio X's guiding principles and passion for immersive technologies have made her an effective mentor for XR Specialists and an overall leader within our team. Our XR specialists often look to her for guidance and will ask her clarifying questions.”
“She’s always thinking critically about our spaces and services. For example, she organized our equipment storage room to be more intuitive so that technology could be more easily found. More broadly, she used her research findings to create a report with recommendations for Studio X, which she then carried out during the semester.
I can always count on her to voice her opinions and share her perspective in a constructive way.”
“She is often my go-to because I can trust she will not only carry out a project, but she will do it well and with her personal touch.
She is always on time—often the one reminding me of the details and checking in on projects—and is good at creating boundaries and communicating if she needs more time on something. And I’ve seen her professionalism on full display while teaching workshops, co-teaching class sessions with me, and presenting at RIT's Frameless XR Symposium.”
She has done a phenomenal job with the Studio X blog and YouTube channel. Her blog posts, in particular, are fabulous. She has written many of them, and they are well-researched and popular. Her post "My Journey with Blender" is one of the most-visited posts on the Studio X website.
Over the last year, I have also seen her grow in this regard through her work as a Karp Library Fellow and collaboration with the XR Specialists. She has learned more about her communication style and how to take feedback while honing her collaboration skills.” ∎
For more information on the Dean’s Student Library Employee Service Award, contact Ashlee Huff at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn about opportunities at Robbins Library, contact Katie Papas at email@example.com. To learn about opportunities at Studio X, contact Meaghan Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy reading about the University of Rochester Libraries? Subscribe to Tower Talk.