Alan Valentine, a former president of the University of Rochester (1935–1950), said, “A university library is—or should be—the geographic and spiritual heart of the cultural life of a university.” The University’s libraries have lived up to the sentiment behind this quote as sources of knowledge, catalysts of research, and facilitators of collaboration. But these things don’t just happen.
Rochester’s libraries are only as valuable as the people who staff them. So, as a nod to President Valentine, one could say, “A library staff is—and will always be—the functional and inspirational heart of the services provided by a university library.”
Staff members across the University’s libraries continually demonstrate their proficiency and willingness to go the extra mile. Each year, the most outstanding are recognized at an annual celebration hosted by the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries.
The staff members below are shining examples of superior librarianship at Rochester and in librarianship at large.
Tom Clifford | River Campus Libraries
Over the last 20 years, Tom Clifford, the Art and Music Library’s section supervisor, has become the film authority on the River Campus Library staff, overseeing all film (physical and stream-able) needs.
Considered to know more about film librarianship than people who have held the film librarian position, Clifford frequently guides faculty and librarians through the labyrinth of film reserves and quickly handles time-sensitive issues related to finding, purchasing, or streaming films. To some who seek his help, he is known simply as “the guy who solves problems.” Recently, he has greatly increased the University’s access to digital media from numerous sources, such as Kanopy, where he proposed and monitored the implementation of its Smart PDA and, most recently, the subscription to Kanopy BASE.
In addition to monitoring the library activity as section supervisor, Clifford trains and supervises as many as 10 student employees. Stephanie Frontz, the director of the Art and Music Library, says students “respect him and look to him for guidance.”
Clifford’s students undoubtedly appreciate the qualities that have also won over faculty and his colleagues: patience, empathy, and a sense of humor.
“With all due humility, this is well-deserved and long overdue,” says Clifford, tongue in cheek. “In all seriousness, it felt great to win this award. I feel like it’s recognition of the kind of work that I and many of my colleagues in section supervision and reserves do that doesn’t get a lot of attention. It tends not to be discussed at library conferences or in journal articles, but it provides what students, faculty, and other patrons need to do their work.”
Robin Lacagnina | Edward G. Miner Libraries
In the Golisano Children’s Hospital lobby, the Mucci Family Resource Library provides children and their families with easy-to-understand information about diseases, procedures, and developmental challenges. The library also offers beloved picture books and a range of fiction and nonfiction materials for parents looking to put their toddler at ease or teens looking for a dose of normalcy. This welcome oasis wouldn’t be what it is without Robin Lacagnina, Miner Libraries’ pediatrics and family resource librarian and this year’s recipient of the Julia F. Sollenberger Recognition Award.
“Her warm and friendly demeanor, coupled with her passion for children’s literature and her skill at connecting families with helpful information, infuse this space with joy and hope,” says Jennifer Raynor, the associate dean of Miner Libraries on Lacagnina’s management of Mucci Library.
Going above and beyond her role as a librarian, Lacagnina was instrumental in Mucci Library’s relocation to the children’s hospital lobby, steering the planning and coordination of the move. But it’s not only undeniable leadership that makes her an invaluable resource at the children’s hospital. Lacagnina has become such a beloved source of kindness and support that families and hospital staff are disappointed when she’s unavailable.
“As a librarian, I love being of service to others,” says Lacagnina, “and this specific role allows me to support kids, families, and healthcare providers in a tangible and purposeful way. Receiving this award is particularly meaningful because the nominations are submitted by peers. It’s very gratifying to be recognized by colleagues I respect and admire.”
James Wojakowski | Sibley Music Library
The largest music library affiliated with any college or university in the United States, Sibley Music Library has nearly 750,000 items for performance and research. Since 2018, James Wojakowski has made this vast collection even more outstanding.
As senior library assistant in the acquisition and serials department, Wojakowski orders the vast majority of new books, scores, and audio for Sibley’s physical collection. He also manages electronic resources, such as e-journal subscriptions, databases, and membership.
“It is detailed, exacting, and complex work, which James has performed with excellence,” says Jonathan Sauceda, the associate dean and head librarian of Sibley Library. “His thoughtfulness, attentiveness, and devotion to the students and faculty at the Eastman School of Music may not always be conspicuous, but it is always deeply and sincerely appreciated.”
A prime example of that thoughtfulness is the work Wojakowski has done to help make Sibley’s collection more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, which includes making recommendations and purchasing scores that are written by composers from minority groups.
“It feels great to have my work acknowledged through this award,” Wojakowski says. “I’ve been with Sibley through many ups and downs, and I would not have made it through without the support and dedication of my colleagues in the acquisitions department. They are a joy to be around, and we always manage to tackle whatever is thrown our way. I’m excited to continue building on the physical collections at Sibley and making sure our students have the resources they need.” ∎
For more information on the River Campus Libraries, contact Maurini Strub, assistant dean for strategy and planning. For more on Sibley Library, contact Jonathan Sauceda. And for more on the Miner Library, contact Jennifer Raynor.