ISU librarian receives award for community involvement

May 18, 2009

An Indiana State University librarian has won an award for playing games.

Tim Gritten, ISU head of systems and interim head of acquisitions at Cunningham Memorial Library, was selected for the NextGen Librarian Award from Lyrasis. Lyrasis formed recently when two library groups - Solinet and Palinet - merged; it has more than 4,000 library and cultural heritage institution members. The NextGen award identifies and celebrates rising leaders in the library community.

Gritten received the award for introducing the program of taking Wii games to Westminster Village, a retirement center in Terre Haute. Library employees take turns going to Westminster each week and play the sports games with the village's residents.

Library Dean Alberta Comer said Gritten helps the library achieve one of its goals of community outreach.

"Tim envisioned an outreach program that would help break down the barriers between town and gown, while serving an often over looked segment of society, the elderly," she said.

The program began during the summer of 2007 with Gritten's suggestion.

"We have Wii in schools and I said wouldn't it be cool to have it at a retirement center," he said. "It had just been released the previous fall and a lot of people didn't have it."

With Westminster officials' approval, Gritten took the game system to the retirement system, hooked it up and began playing tennis. One of the residents at a nearby table playing cards became intrigued and asked to play.

"She played a couple of points and said she was starting to sweat," he said. "Then she said she is a former high school tennis champion."

Gritten assembled a team from the library that now goes weekly to play Wii with the residents and from eight to 15 residents await their arrival on Friday afternoons.

"Their vast preference is bowling," he said with a laugh.

Because of that preference, the first Friday of each month is set aside for other sports such as tennis, boxing or golf.

"The residents are all very happy and cheer each other on," he said. "They give each other suggestions and pointers."

Comer, who nominated Gritten, described him as "one of those rare individuals who always gives 110 percent of his effort."

"Tim's contributions to the library and university are many: managing a busy department, serving as copyright specialist, working on outreach projects, serving on many committees," she said. "However, what makes Tim a delight to work with is his professional and proficient manner, the civil manner in which he treats his colleagues and others, his positive outlook on life and his desire to make a difference in people's lives, as illustrated through his work with Westminster Village."

While Gritten said he is happy to receive the award, he noted that others are involved in the program.

"It would make more sense if it would go to the library. I'm just one small piece," he said. "It's nice to be recognized but for me the fun is the activity."

As part of Gritten's award, Lyrasis paid for his travel to the conference May 14-15 in Atlanta, as well as hotel and registration. He and the other four winners discussed their projects during a session at the conference.

"It's neat to see what other people are doing and they get to see what ISU is doing," he said.

-30-

Contact: Tim Gritten, Indiana State University, Cunningham Memorial Library head of systems and interim head of acquisitions, at 812-237-2057 or tgritten@indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or jsicking@indstate.edu

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/534716342_EWzb9-L.jpg

Cutline: Tim Gritten's Wii image. Courtesy photo.