Library dean receives New York Times honor

December 8 2006

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - An Indiana State University dean is one of three academic librarians recognized nationally for their contributions to learning.

Myrna McCallister, dean of Library Services at Indiana State, was named as a recipient of the 2006 New York Times Librarian Awards. She was one of three academic librarians recognized for their public service and their leadership and the only one from Indiana. The Times also recognized 22 public librarians for their service.

McCallister was nominated by President Lloyd W. Benjamin III, who praised her efforts at overseeing the physical transformation of Cunningham Memorial Library, expanding the materials and services available.

"Myrna has built new programs for orienting faculty, staff and students on how to utilize the library's resources and she has extended that training to area K-12 students. She also has changed the culture of the library to one of customer service, responsiveness and enthusiasm for new projects," Benjamin said.

The honor came as a complete surprise to McCallister who learned about the honor courtesy of a phone call from the New York Times.

"I never dreamed I would be nominated, let alone be a winner," she said.

Through the expansion of materials and services, McCallister has seen an increase in activity. Since 2003 when she became dean, visits have increased 105 percent and items being checked out have gone up 55 percent.

She has enabled the library to become a visible partner in the learning process. Through the library's Reference Liaison Program, a librarian is assigned to a college or department to inform faculty members about the resources available to them and their students.

Keri Berg, assistant professor of French, has worked with the library on several projects, including a grant application to the French Government for the Tournees Film Festival.

"Under Myrna's leadership, the library has become a public space in which students, faculty and community members come together to share knowledge, ideas and experiences: a place filled not only with books, but people. Numerous examples come to my mind - film screenings, guest lectures, reading groups, classroom discussions and impromptu meetings in the library's cafe Berg said.

"Libraries have always been cultural centers, but often people get lost in the stacks. Myrna has brought people to books, books to people and, perhaps most importantly, people to people," she added.

McCallister said she enjoys activity in the library.

"I love to walk through the library and see every computer terminal in use, students researching and engaged in deep thought and students relaxing using their laptops and drinking coffee. The library should be the heart of campus and we're getting closer to that becoming a reality," she said.

McCallister and the other award recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Dec. 13. Each winner will receive a monetary award and a commemorative plaque from The Times. A separate plaque featuring the winner's name will be sent to the library where each winner works.

"We are very happy for this opportunity to celebrate librarians from across the country, whose enormous contributions sometimes go unrecognized," said Alyse Myers, senior vice president, chief marketing officer, The New York Times Media Group.

"This year, we are also delighted to extend the Librarian Awards to academic librarians, who serve their college communities with the same devotion as the public librarians whose work we have honored since 2001. All librarians fill a vital role in our society - they are the people who bring together communities in the pursuit of knowledge. In doing so, they remind us that education and civic engagement are critical components of a thriving democracy," Myers said.

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Contact and writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or pmeyer4@isugw.indstate.edu

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An Indiana State University dean is one of three academic librarians recognized nationally for their contributions to learning.

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