MIT Libraries staff honored with 2024 Infinite Mile Awards

Staff members recognized for thoughtfulness, professionalism, and exceptional service to the community.

A group of 30 people pose for a photo on a balcony; there are leafy green trees in the background.The MIT Libraries celebrated the exceptional contributions of its employees June 11 with the 2024 Infinite Mile Awards ceremony. With a “Mt. MIT” theme celebrating hiking, camping, and all things outdoorsy, the event also featured a lively performance by the libraries’ band, The Dust Jackets.

Awardees were nominated by their library colleagues in the categories listed below; individuals and team recipients are listed along with excerpts from the award presentations.

Bringing Out the Best
Administrative assistant Aya Fujita Ross was recognized for fostering an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment in all her interactions. Proactive and innovative, she always finds effective solutions, and even if she doesn’t have an immediate answer, she finds the right resources and follows up diligently. Beyond her professional excellence, she is a passionate advocate for social justice, always choosing the path of righteousness over convenience.

Community Building and Engagement
Thera Webb, Women@MIT Project Archivist, is actively involved in conversations with potential donors of archival collections, organizes outreach events with campus partners to promote the Women@MIT collections, leads instruction sessions for classes and student groups, and has helped conduct research and provide advice to MIT’s Indigenous history classes. She finds new ways to foster connections, share resources, and create a positive environment for staff and MIT community members and is a model for how to build and maintain relationships that enhance the Libraries’ values.

Tough Questions/Critical Thinkers
Lead Engineer Jeremy Prevost always takes the time to respond to questions and provide thoughtful feedback on ideas shared by others. He makes it a point to ask about downstream effects from feature implementations and considers different factors affecting project work, like the “why” behind an action and who or what will be impacted by it. Prevost will go out of his way to understand what someone is trying to ask, even when they can’t formulate the words themselves.

Unsung Hero
Project Coordinator Katie Rusin has a quiet, seamless way of getting numerous things done simultaneously, such as running the complex logistics for workshops, onboarding staff, resolving supplies order issues, troubleshooting process details, and more. Much of this work happens in the background but is integral to the success of the MIT Libraries. After taking a new position at the Libraries, Rusin has remained a valued resource to her former group. Even with her own sizable workload, she never fails to tirelessly support the efforts of her colleagues.

Collaboration and Inclusion
The Internal Communications Working Group, which includes Palak Patel, Francesca Bozor, Thera Webb (‘22-23), and Katharine Dunn (‘23-‘24), allows everyone in the Libraries to focus on the work that matters most and to better understand the work that their colleagues do. With thoughtful engagement and listening across the organization, the group is putting the Libraries on a path to increased clarity, transparency, and a sense of belonging. Their work, which includes creating Libraries-wide norms and guidelines, respects diverse viewpoints and needs while also offering best practices that everyone can use to improve communication.

Innovation, Creativity, and Problem Solving
Ece Turnator, Ye Li, and Daniel Sheehan serve as instructors, planners, champions and year-round stewards of the Carpentries@MIT program, teaching basic computing skills for researchers. The team members have done the hard work of planning both workshop logistics and content, have traveled through the Carpentries training sessions themselves, and have spent long hours improving their own technical skills in order to serve as instructors. They show great creativity and thoughtfulness in all of these endeavors, finding novel ways to make the workshops as good as they can be, and push the boundaries of “traditional” librarianship to give students, faculty, and staff the best possible skills for doing the research they came to MIT to do.

Results, Outcome, and Productivity
The LibAnswers Implementation Project Team took on the herculean task of migrating the Libraries to a new ticketing system. The team includes Martina Anderson, Tina Chan, Lara Day, Melissa Feiden, Amanda Hawk, Derek Hixon, Lisa Horowitz, Donald Long, and Chris Tanguay. The team facilitated a smooth migration to LibAnswers, keeping Libraries staff informed, guiding impacted staff through change management, and managing a vendor relationship, all while making sense of a new system themselves.

User Service and Support
In 2022, students from the School of Architecture and Planning requested more access to study spaces in Rotch Library. The Rotch 24/7 Pilot Group, including Jaclyn Wilson, Felicity Walsh, Howard Martin, Maria Rodrigues, Laura Hanscom, Deborah Lenares, Kim Maxwell, Mohamed El Ouirdi, Lisa Horowitz, Kai Smith, Amy Nurnberger, Daniel Sheehan, Jana Dambrogio, Matt Saba, Caitlin Canfield, Kendall Dawson, and Elanienne Coste, was formed to meet this need. Through important discussions regarding collections, service points, staff spaces, art, and safety, the project progressed successfully, allowing the MIT Libraries to offer new 24/7 access to Rotch’s main floor study spaces.

Christine Moulen “Good Citizen” Award
This award remembers Christine Moulen ‘94, an MIT Libraries colleague of more than 20 years, and is presented every year to staff who exhibit some of her remarkable qualities, such as generosity, willingness to support others, and sharing expertise to improve effectiveness. With more than 20 years spent at MIT, 10 of which have been at MIT Libraries, Daniel Sheehan has collaborated with countless professors, students, and researchers to serve the MIT community. The program head for GIS and Statistical Software Services, Sheehan has been invaluable in building technical skills throughout the campus, teaching classes in Course 1, hosting workshops, and even joining student programs on fieldwork expeditions. Beyond sharing his years of technical expertise, Sheehan has also been generous in sharing his time, energy, and wisdom with all of the staff. His enthusiasm for expanding library services and careful consideration of student needs have been instrumental in transforming GIS services at MIT Libraries.