Spirit of Librarianship Award – Call For Nominations (and A Mea Culpa)

Okay, the call for the Spirit of Librarianship Award for the summer semester has come out so I'll end my self-imposed ban on blogging about the award (I talked about it A LOT last semester.)  

First off, the notice:

The Spirit of Librarianship Award is presented to a
Master of Library and Information Science student to acknowledge and
celebrate the contributions that this student brings to the program. It
is to be awarded to the student who “exemplifies the spirit of
librarianship” in their daily life as a student. It is based on a
positive collegial attitude and contribution, a willingness to help
whenever a need arises, and an interest in fellow students.

Any current Master of Library and Information Science student is eligible, except those on co-op, those who have previously received the award, and those on the Spirit of Librarianship committee.

Committee members are:
Lindsay Holdsworth
Gillian Webster

Previous winners are listed on the Student Council website.

nominations are due by Tuesday, July 17th at 1:00pm. Please send
nominations to lholdsw@uwo.ca with “Spirit of Librarianship Nomination”
in the subject line.

Now, the mea culpa…

The Student Council has a new web site which is very good and Colin put a huge amount of work into it – archiving materials, compiling links, just generally making order from chaos.  The only unfortunate thing is that it sits on the FIMS intranet which only makes it accessible to current students, not incoming ones or graduating ones when our passwords are turned off.  (Okay, there are two unfortunate things – it's also a Microsoft Sharepoint site which isn't the most user friendly way to present information although probably one of the easiest to set-up based on the department's infrastructure.) 

I was looking through the minutes from past Student Council meetings shortly after the site was launched and there was one reference to the vote totals for the Spirit of Librarianship Award being leaked last semester.  As I said, I wrote a lot about the Spirit nomination at that time so went back to look at my blog entries to see what I said. 

In one entry, I wrote “After an intense (?)
build-up, the Spirit of Librarianship Award goes to… (drum
roll)…me.  Without being too egotistical, I'm not too
surprised.  I heard I got more nominations than some people got
votes, I was the only one from first term nominated (and only the
second first-termer to win it) so I got lots of votes from classmates
while other nominees had to split votes between their cohorts. 
Plus a little bird told me the other day that I should definitely 
come to the “Destressor” so I had a pretty good idea how it might go

…which is retrospect, probably comes across as a lot more cocky than I intended it to. 

I wrote that I got more nominations than some people got votes, not because I'd had the info leaked to me by a student council member but because I knew that I'd been nominated by a few different people (they all told me this directly.)  I was talking to someone (who wasn't on council) and they said, “If you got multiple nominations, you probably got more votes already than some of the other nominees got.”  (I asked Lyndsey – nominating someone doesn't automatically count as a vote so that's not true either!) 

Anyhow, somehow
my brain translated this to “You did get more nominations than some people
got votes” and that's why I wrote what I did.  I should have qualified
this with “probably got more votes” and actually, I probably should not have written that at all.  Very un-librarian-like of me. 

As for the little bird that told me I had to come to the Destressor, I think this was possibly my overactive imagination mixed with beer mixed with with someone trying to get everyone they could (nominees and others) to come to the event.  In fact, I was told this at the Grad Club and I think people at my table were also told they had to come – and they hadn't even been nominated for anything!  So again, overactive imagination plus beer plus award nomination = foot in mouth disease. 

So I take full responsibility for what I said (and how I said it.)  I'm not even sure if my blog is why some people thought the vote totals had been leaked but if so, I apologise for any problems this caused for Student Council, other nominees or anyone else who was offended. 

On a slightly related topic, my biggest regret about the whole Spirit of Librarianship award is that I didn't push a bit harder for my win to be worded something like “Jason Hammond, on behalf of the Class of January 2006.”  I'm proud that I won it but I don't like how it sets me apart. 

I've had more than one person say “oh, you're the Spirit winner” or whatever and I know that instantly brings some preconceptions (and not necessarily good ones.)  One person described it as “oh, you're one of those involved people” except I don't think they necessarily meant “involved” as a good thing.  Another said “It's no big deal – it's not like you put it on your resume or anything” except, of course, that's the issue right there. 

The Award is very schizophrenic – it is (or should be) a pretty big honour as only one student out of what, 150 in the program, can win it each semester.  But it's also an award for the Spirit of Librarianship that ironically, works by doing things that are against what librarianship is about (equality, sharing, fairness.) 

In fact, if we're going to have awards, why not have a full-fledged awards program that will make the entire awards program into something special rather than just having one award that people may or may not care much about?  You could have one  for the “most promising librarian” which is aimed at someone who also has strong librarian qualities but maybe isn't as visible as the people who tend to win the Spirit award.  You could have an award just for first-termers – “Rookie of the Year?” or something?  Maybe have an award for a student who volunteers the most. 

Some of these could be voted on, some could be picked by student council as a committee.  I don't know – just an idea to sort of spread the wealth a bit and give other people something to put on their resume.  Because contrary to what that one person said to me (at the Destressor right after I won the Award no less!), I do intend to put my Spirit of Librarianship Award on my resume – proudly!

Classmate of the Day: Everyone involved in the great discussion today in 506 – Management. 

Comments 2

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    There are a lot of good suggestions in there. That's why I think that as much as the SoL award could simply be an empty popularity contest, I think that you are deserving winner.
    A few observations of my own:
    “One person described it as “oh, you're one of those involved people” except I don't think they necessarily meant “involved” as a good thing.”
    Isn't that sort of their problem? If you did good work and other people didn't do any work, why not be recognized for your achievements? Inclusiveness does not equate with fairness if the reward is not commensurate with effort, if not achievement.
    I understand the sentiment, though. Some people *only* get involved in order to pad their resumes or because they have more energy than outlets on which to burn it. There doesn't seem to be a moral victory hidden in there anywhere.
    On the other hand, the world needs those sorts of people too to balance out the well-intentioned but “differently-motivated” individuals who are all talk and no action. In the charity work that my partner and I organize, we stopped caring about motives early on in favor of motivation. We just needed to get food into hungry mouths and it didn't matter why people were helping us accomplish that.
    A good friend, who is a pastor, once told me that people give of themselves for a lot of reasons and not all of them are healthy. But you have to honour the giving or people will stop seeing the value in giving and if that happens, all is lost.
    “it is (or should be) a pretty big honour as only one student out of what, 150 in the program, can win it each semester. ”
    This is another thing that probably alienates some people. It's supposed to be a big deal, but because of the nature of the nomination and voting process it is hard to tell the stories of past winners in order to communicate the context and value of the honour. It just seems like one more name on a list.
    “But it's also an award for the Spirit of Librarianship that ironically, works by doing things that are against what librarianship is about (equality, sharing, fairness.)”
    To which I would add “excellence” and “community involvement” in which case the award fits in quite nicely. Hard to say if it works out that way every time, though, given that the stories of past winners are largely lost to posterity.
    PS You had a great discussion in 506? I almost literally fell off my chair when I read that. Kudos to that class.

    Posted 17 Jul 2006 at 12:49 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey Mike,
    Just wanted to say thanks for your thoughts. Atypically, I don't have much to say in response. I agree with most of what you say – people who choose not to be active are their own problem, not mine; it's not worth asking why people volunteer as long as they do; “excellence” and “community” are as much a part of the SoL award as the other elements.
    About the names being lost to posterity, Sabina and I are working on a project to correct that, if ever so slightly. More details soon…

    Posted 23 Jul 2006 at 5:22 am

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