Stephen O'Connor is a Messinger Winner

Stephen O'Connor is a Messinger Winner

His above-and-beyond efforts in a recently completed two-year project are award-worthy. But it’s for decades of superlative professionalism that he’s now being recognized.  
October 31, 2019

Six months ago, anyone looking for Stephen O’Connor, a senior information analyst for the River Campus Libraries, would have found him absorbed in some facet of the transition to the University Libraries’ new system, Alma.

He might have been on the phone, working through a functionality issue with Alma’s vendor, Ex Libris.

He may have been in one of the weekly hour-long sessions that were held to allow staff the opportunity to ask questions about Alma.

But more often than not, he was likely preparing an eye-crossing amount of data and records—which he checked, re-checked, and checked again—for migration from Voyager (the previous system) to Alma.

After Alma went live, which occurred at the end of July, and a brief monitoring period, O’Connor took a much-deserved vacation. When he returned, he learned he was being awarded the 2019 Martin E. Messinger Libraries Recognition Award.

“Stephen was the overwhelming choice,” says Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of the University of Rochester Libraries. “For the past 32 years, he has demonstrated outstanding and steadfast service, especially in his work with Rochester’s library systems Geac, Voyager, and now, Alma.” 

Mavrinac noted the upgrade to Alma would not have been successful, let alone possible without O’Connor. 

It’s no exaggeration. O’Connor was one of two staff members who earned the Alma certification necessary for the libraries to move forward with the implementation.

Even though his expertise and effort were essential to the project’s successful completion, O’Connor was caught off guard by the award. “I was stunned,” he says. “It just never occurred to me that I would receive an award like this. I’ll be the first one to admit it was hard work, but I feel like I’ve just been doing my job.”

Except he wasn’t. The Alma project was a taxing distortion of his actual day-to-day responsibilities. These include loading bibliographic and patron records into the system, running reports, and creating system widgets that help staff—something O’Connor is eager to get back to. 

“When I'm working on something, I think, ‘This is going to make it easier for Lydia [Auteritano] to do her job, this is going help Katrina [Lowery] to do her job,’” he says. “I’m very proud of that.”

O’Connor is the eighth recipient of the annual Messinger Award, which honors contributions that advance the educational mission of the library or the library profession. The award takes its name from a longtime friend of the libraries and lifetime Trustee Martin E. Messinger ʼ49.

“We owe Stephen an incredible debt of gratitude,” says Mavrinac. “I’m delighted we were able to show him how much we appreciate his work.”

O’Connor is still mostly speechless.

“The only thing I can say is ‘Thank you.’”

For questions about the Messinger Award or past honorees, contact Matt Cook.

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