UT Libraries Celebrates Staff During Annual Spirit Awards Ceremony

The UT Libraries held its annual Spirit Awards ceremony on May 21. As Dean of Libraries Steve Smith told the gathering, the yearly breakfast is an opportunity to “recognize and honor the outstanding achievements of our faculty, staff, and students who embody the spirit of excellence, innovation, and service within our libraries.”

A committee of library staff members selects the winners from among those individuals nominated by their library colleagues.

Winners of the Teamwork Award
Winners of the Paul E. Trentham Sr. Teamwork Award

The Undergraduate and Graduate Student Awards are presented to student workers who not only meet but surpass their roles within the UT Libraries through steadfast commitment and exemplary job performance. Cameron Atkinson (Pendergrass Library), winner of the Undergraduate Student Award, was acclaimed for her commitment and creativity. “Whether it be fielding complex research queries or managing technology loans, Cameron has consistently exhibited outstanding judgment and a deep-seated passion for service that resonates with every patron she assists.”

Graduate Student Award winner Gabby Cochran (Assessment Planning and Collection Strategies) was lauded by her colleagues: “Gabby has been a cornerstone in our department for over a year and a half, showcasing not just a stellar work ethic but also a contagiously positive attitude and meticulous attention to detail.”

Bryan Davis receives the Extraordinary Customer Service Award from Paul James.
Bryan Davis (left) receives the Extraordinary Customer Service Award from Paul James.

Paul James, former chair of the John C. Hodges Society Advisory Board, presented the Library Society Service Endowment Award for Extraordinary Customer Service. The award goes to a UT Libraries faculty or staff member who is consistently optimistic and shows extraordinary initiative in customer service. While overseeing shipping and receiving at Hodges Library, Bryan Davis (Collection Logistics) gives a daily demonstration of extraordinary customer service. As just one example: “Building relationships is an art—and our recipient excels at it. Engaging vendors in friendly conversations may seem like small talk, yet these interactions lay the foundation for positive working relationships that contribute significantly to our library’s collaborative atmosphere.”

Michelle Brannen receives the Paul M. and Marion T. Miles Innovation Award from Dean of Libraries Steve Smith.
Michelle Brannen receives the Paul M. and Marion T. Miles Innovation Award from Dean of Libraries Steve Smith.

The Paul M. and Marion T. Miles Innovation Award went to Michelle Brannen (Immersive Spaces and Technologies) in recognition of creative thinking that has improved our services to the public. “Her dedication has not only contributed to the successful launch of the Medbery Makerspace but continues to be instrumental in sustaining this vibrant hub of innovation.”

The Paul E. Trentham Sr. Library Partner Award is conferred on a colleague from outside the Libraries whose efforts have had a positive and substantial impact on library services. This year’s Library Partner Award was given to Karen Armsey, the head of H.A.B.I.T. (Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee), which brings therapy dogs into UT’s libraries during exam week to support student well-being.

The Paul E. Trentham Sr. Teamwork Award is presented to members of a department, team, or other group who have contributed to the Libraries by completing a project that had a significant impact on the Libraries’ collections, facilities, services, or systems.  This year, a group of library staff spent weeks reorganizing and moving delicate archival materials to a new location. Thanks are due to Teamwork Award winners Jennifer Beals, Kris Bronstad, William De Leonardis, Jonathan Dennison, Britany Green, Meredith Hale, Courtney Holmes, Kyle Hovious, Steve Pursiful, David Ratledge, Amanda Richards, Laura Romans, and Alex Sabau.

Melanie Dixon receives the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Professional Performance from Dean of Libraries Steve Smith.
Melanie Dixon receives the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Professional Performance.

The Paul E. Trentham Sr. Dean’s Award for Excellence in Professional Performance is given to a UT Libraries faculty or staff member who has made significant contributions to the Libraries over a period of years and/or recently contributed to a special effort or project on the Libraries’ behalf. This year’s award honors Melanie Dixon (Health and Wellness) for her leadership in medical librarianship, for enhancing the Libraries’ role in medical education by providing access to anatomical resources for students and faculty, and for leading the Libraries’ new Health and Wellness department and creating a formal program for evidence-based synthesis in research.

The Unsung Hero Award honors a faculty or staff member who performs essential work but often works quietly and unrecognized, behind-the-scenes. Olrun (Acquisitions and Continuing Resources) was recognized for consistently going above and beyond the call of duty, learning new skills and taking on additional tasks when needed. “With everything she does, Olrun quietly puts the organization’s interests first.”

Calantha Tillotson, winner of the Rookie of the Year Award.
Rookie of the Year Calantha Tillotson

The Rookie of the Year Award goes to a new faculty or staff member (with the Libraries less then three years) who has demonstrated initiative, creativity, and the ability to make significant contributions to the Libraries. In nominating Calantha Tillotson (Immersive Spaces and Technologies), a colleague wrote: “In her relatively short time with us, Calantha has already made a significant impact through her leadership, dedication, and innovative approach to her role as liaison to the College of Communication and Information.… Her efforts have been so impactful that CCI faculty have sought her involvement in initiatives beyond Knoxville, underscoring the depth of trust and respect she has garnered within the community.”

Woody Holmes, winner of the Outstanding Staff Member Award
Outstanding Staff Member Woody Holmes

The Outstanding Staff Member Award is presented to a member of the Libraries staff who serves with dedication and a commitment to excellence — often going above and beyond expectations to provide service to students, faculty, and staff. This year’s winner, Woody Holmes (Public Services), tirelessly promotes our resources and connects individuals with the tools they need for success. He is always ready with friendly customer service, knowledgeable research help, or technical support for the classrooms.

The award for Outstanding Faculty Member honors a library faculty member who has demonstrated a continuous commitment to excellence in professional performance, research, scholarship, creative activity, public service, and the educational vision of the UT Libraries. Winning faculty member Maggie Albro (Health and Wellness) has published significant work in the field of library science. She makes time to mentor others and tutor colleagues in research processes — all while maintaining active engagement as a liaison for her department.

Congratulations to all Library Spirit Award winners!