The Library Awards and Recognition Committee is pleased to announce that MS/LIS students Leah DiCiesare and Jason Larsen have been selected as recipients of the 2021-2022 Outstanding Graduate Student Award. This award recognizes graduate student workers for exceptional accomplishments and service to the University Library.
DiCiesare is based in the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center (GELIC). Her duties include providing reference services, working on digital library initiatives, staffing service desks, and engaging in resource development, instructional, and operational support across all Physical Sciences and Engineering Division libraries (PSED).
She was nominated by Elisandro Cabada, interim head of the Mathematics Library; Paula Carns, head of the Languages & Literatures Library; and Megan Johnson, senior library specialist at GELIC, who detailed DiCiesare's many contributions.
"The Math Library is going through many transitions as it prepares for an upcoming renovation and revamps of several services to align with the 'new normal' as we emerge from the pandemic. Leah has been instrumental in coordinating our collection review to evaluate older and rare materials. With Leah's work, the knowledge of over 300 items that date as early as the 18th century will be preserved for the next 150 years," noted Cabada.
Carns, who worked with DiCiesare on a 2021 practicum, shared, "Wanting to expand the geographic scope of the Library's Medieval and Renaissance LibGuide to bring it into alignment with current trends to de-center Europe, I suggested to Leah that she create a multi-page section on the Global Middle Ages. Leah's strong general knowledge of the period and research skills were an asset to the project. She did an excellent job of researching this emerging area, its contours, methodologies and resources, and used the information to create a comprehensive and well organized guide."
"Leah excels at any project we give her. As one example, Leah brought renewed interest in creating LibGuides dedicated to the intersection of humanities and sciences to help illustrate just how closely STEM fields weave into different subject areas. Her enthusiasm for working across units will make her an excellent STEM librarian one day—one who understands how interconnected all our disciplines are and how a truly well-rounded education is supported by the work of all the subject areas our libraries specialize in," commented Johnson.
Larsen provides support in promoting and developing the Library's global popular culture collections and services. In particular, he helps review the availability and select comics acquisitions, assists in collection analysis projects, and helps organize and maintain webpages, LibGuides, and other online artifacts describing and promoting the collection.
"Jason has meticulously developed the pilot crowdfunded comics project, and in doing so, has left an indelible mark on the University Library," noted Mara Thacker, South Asian Studies & Global Popular Culture librarian who nominated Larsen for the award. "His work on the crowdfunded comics collection has helped us start one of the most unique library collections in the United States. A 2021 study found that until now, no libraries had been systematically including crowdfunded comics in their comics collections. Jason was given basic parameters to track and select Kickstarter comics that represent underrepresented and marginalized creators, and the workflows he developed show unparalleled thoughtfulness, creativity, and attention to detail. These comics further the Library’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives, and will allow Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students to see their voices and experiences reflected in our popular collections. Jason's meticulous documentation ensures continuity and stability in continuing to develop this collection after he graduates. Jason has a bright future in libraries and will leave huge shoes to fill for his successor."
The following MS/LIS students were also nominated for the award: Alexandra Byerly, Literatures and Languages Library; Sylvia Figueroa Ortiz, Undergraduate Library; Kim Larsen, Funk ACES Library; Samantha Lindgren, Funk ACES Library; and Aine O’Connor, Undergraduate Library. The committee was very impressed by all of the nominations, which shared many compelling examples of the wonderful contributions made by these talented graduate assistants and hourlies. DiCiesare and Larsen will each receive $500 after taxes and a certificate.