University Libraries names 2022 annual employee award winners

January 10, 2023

The University Libraries has announced the recipients of its 2022 University Librarian’s Meritorious Service Award and Annual Excellence Awards. Recipients were selected based on nominations for their exemplary work and contributions to advancing the University Library’s mission.

Congratulations to the award winners!

University Librarian’s Meritorious Service Award

The University Librarian’s Meritorious Service Award represents the University Libraries’ highest honor and recognizes exceptionally meritorious and transformative work over time or in the face of exceptionally challenging, crisis or emergency circumstances.

Monica Figueroa, interim director of human resources and librarian for inclusive excellence

Monica Figueroa

“Monica’s contributions are critical to the Library’s strategic priorities, capacity-building, and recognition as a leader in inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility and racial reckoning at Carolina and among academic libraries,” wrote social sciences librarian Kristan Shawgo. “Her work has garnered local, regional and national attention for the University Libraries.”

As the interim librarian for inclusive excellence, Figueroa oversees implementation of the Library’s Reckoning Initiative, which aims to make the Library a more inclusive and equitable organization. That work includes chairing the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Council, initiating the Fall 2022 Racial Equity Challenge, serving on the IDEA Action Committee and acting as the Library’s diversity liaison to the University. Since becoming interim head of Library human resources in 2022, she has also overseen hiring for key positions and helped lead efforts to implement equity-based and labor market pay for Library employees.

“Monica’s efforts have had a profound impact on our organization and the wider library community,” wrote Art Library head Alice Whiteside and liaison librarians Angela Bardeen and Therese Triumph. “While her work clearly advances the priority of inclusive excellence, it also has knit the University Libraries together in new ways, both through individual connections and through cross-departmental collaboration.”

Annual Excellence Awards

Annual Excellence awards recognize outstanding workplace efforts or contributions in specific areas, including innovation and problem-solving, inclusive excellence, customer service, and leadership.

Kristan Shawgo, social sciences librarian

(Awarded for Inclusive Excellence)
Kristan Shawgo smiles for. a portrait. Kristan has straight, dark hair cut to chin-length. She wears a leather jacket, tortoise-shell print glasses, and a brown sweater.

Kristan Shawgo

“Kristan Shawgo works tirelessly to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism and social justice in the University Libraries. She has been an ever-present and consistent advocate for inclusive and welcoming spaces for students, faculty and staff,” wrote a team of nominators from the IDEA Council.

Shawgo served as the inaugural chair of the Library’s IDEA Action Committee, organizing an leading a group of volunteer committee members to accelerate programmatic equity and inclusion work in the Library. She has also been active in Reckoning efforts across the University Libraries; some of her contributions include co-facilitating discussion groups, leading efforts to post wayfinding signs for the lactation rooms and gender-neutral restrooms, working to make the Library’s LGBTQIA+ collections more inclusive and helping implement the addition of personal pronouns in the Library’s staff directory.

“Kristan has helped further conversation and action in the broader profession,” the nominators wrote.  “She is a true leader and collaborator in this work, and the Libraries would not be where they are today without her!”

Stephanie Williams, library software applications developer

(Awarded for Innovation & Problem-Solving and Customer Service)
Stephanie Williams smiles for a photo. Stephanie has brown hair, pinned up and is wearing a yellow top.

Stephanie Williams

“This year, on top of her normal work for the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (NCDHC), Stephanie dramatically expanded the center’s capacity to serve digitized newspaper content at a time when archival news content is in danger of disappearing entirely,” wrote NC DHC Program Coordinator Lisa Gregory and Digital Projects Librarian Kristen Merryman.

Williams found a way to take 2.4 million pages of newspapers from the Library’s collection that were originally digitized in partnership with — and behind a paywall — and make them accessible for free via the NCDHC’s site. In the process, she also gave the center capacity to accept far more newspaper content from partners across North Carolina, allowing the center to receive, digitize and share materials that would otherwise be lost entirely when newspapers close with nowhere to put their archival content. The new capacity of the systems also allowed the NC DHC to open a satellite office at Elizabeth City State University to facilitate adding more newspaper content.

“We would never have thought any of this was possible without Stephanie’s visioning, commitment to open access and belief in our mission of preserving local history,” wrote Gregory and Merryman. “The center is lucky to have her doing this work — and so is the state of North Carolina.”

Nancy Kaiser, technical services archivist; Becca Stubbs, processing assistant; and Eileen Lewis, business services coordinator

(Awarded for Innovation & Problem-Solving and Inclusive Excellence)
Nancy Kaiser poses for a portrait. Nancy has shoulder-lenght gray hair and wears a deep red blouse and necklace.

Nancy Kaiser

Eileen Lewis smiles for a portrait. Eileen has dark hair and wears silver glasses, a pendant necklace and a black sweater.

Eileen Lewis

Becca Stubbs smiles for the camera. She has long, dark hair. Becca wears glasses, red lipstick and a blue top with a geometric print.

Becca Stubbs

“As part of a project to make the descriptions of archival records at Wilson Library more inclusive, Nancy, Becca and Eileen undertook a project that was completely new to the technical services department: a series of interviews to learn from community genealogists who use our collections. The project ended up being tremendously successful and has made a significant contribution in our efforts to dismantle bias in archival description,” wrote Head of Archival Processing Section Jackie Dean and Head of Bibliographic Cataloging Section Eileen Dewitya.

This type of interview is not typical of technical services work, so Nancy, Becca and Eileen had to start from scratch in planning and executing the project. Together, they interviewed 10 community genealogists, all of whom were women of color. Nancy project-managed interviews, setting up times and handling all of the paperwork. Becca and Eileen guided the conversations expertly, with consistency, professionalism and a welcoming presence. The team had to overcome challenges and make changes along the way, but it is already clear that the impact was worth the effort.

Dean and Dewitya wrote that the project provided valuable insight into how genealogists interpret the department’s language, and users are also noticing the improvements. After the interviews, one genealogist said, “I look at this finding aid all the time. I see the language has changed, and it’s changed for the better. Now it’s more helpful.”