Margaret Lam receives PAM Achievement Award

Congratulations to Margaret Lam, Physical Sciences & STEM Data Librarian!

At the 2021 Special Libraries Association (SLA) Annual Conference, the Physics-Astronomy-Mathematics (PAM) Community presented Margaret Lam with the PAM Achievement Award on Friday, August 13, 2021. Lam is the 23rd recipient of this honor since it was first awarded in 1997. The purpose of the PAM Achievement Award is to recognize those members who have made outstanding contributions to the PAM Community, and whose professional work is marked by distinction and dedication to librarianship in astronomy, mathematics and/or physics.

Anya Bartelmann, Chair of the PAM Awards Committee and Astrophysics, Mathematics, and Physics Librarian at the Lewis Science Library & Fruth Plasma Physics Library of Princeton University, presented the award to Lam, praising her dedication and expertise in her fields, active contributions to PAM, organizational skills, strategic planning, and service orientation. Bartelmann’s full remarks will be included in the November issue of the PAM Bulleton (published via PAMnet).

Lam, who has been with Mason Libraries since 2010, is a member of the Sciences and Technology Team in the Learning, Research and Engagement (LRE) division. John Walsh, Associate University Librarian for LRE, called the award “a truly major achievement! With this award, Margaret is now part of a cadre of remarkable professionals. Past winners are all luminaries in Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics librarianship or leaders in STEM academic or societal publishing. ”

Kim Hoffman, Lead for the Sciences and Technology Team, remarked, “Margaret is deserving of this award, and I am so glad to see her expertise acknowledged by her professional colleagues.”

Upon learning of Lam’s selection for this award, John Zenelis, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, commented, “Receiving notification of the PAM Awards Committee’s selection of Margaret was wonderful news. Margaret’s dedication to librarianship and to the Mason community is a testimony to her expertise, work ethic, and numerous professional contributions.”

Among her many accomplishments and in addition to her committee and community service, Lam has appeared in numerous publications, presented at conferences, managed collections development in a variety of STEM disciplines, and provided innumerable research and reference support and consultation to faculty and students.

Lam has her BA and MA in Chemistry and her Master of Library Science, from Queens College, The City University of New York.

Center for Mason Legacies releases “Black Lives Next Door” preliminary findings

The Center for Mason Legacies (CML) invites you to explore their newly created digital project, Black Lives Next Door: George Mason and Northern Virginia in an Age of Disparity and Opportunity (BLND). Building on work that began in 2020, BLND is presenting its first set of findings and inviting our community to take a journey through our “pasts next door” and related stories. Read the full announcement here.

About the Center for Mason Legacies: CML is an interdisciplinary and collaborative research center established by the University Libraries and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. CML’s mission is to preserve and examine the legacy of George Mason IV (1725-1792), his ancestors and heirs, and the people he enslaved. Learn more about the center here and their various research projects here.

FRAME II awarded $1,175,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

“Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education II” awarded a $1,175,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

By law, any material required for the education of a disabled student must be made accessible for them in a timely manner. In the United States, the legal obligation to provide accessible learning materials falls on individual educational institutions, and universities and colleges across the country are scrambling to meet their responsibilities to students with special information-access needs. The staff of disability services offices (DSOs) spend a great deal of time and effort remediating printed texts, transforming them into a variety of electronic formats to improve access for students with print disabilities. Because many of the same texts are commonly assigned at multiple institutions, the result is a wasteful duplication of effort as the DSO staff at each independent university must start the remediation work over again.

For the last two years, the University of Virginia Library has led a multi-institutional project to address this problem. With a two-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, University Librarian John Unsworth initiated an effort to create a web-based infrastructure allowing DSOs to share remediated texts, in order to reduce their nationwide duplication of effort, and thereby make it possible for the staff in these offices to achieve better outcomes for students in higher education.

That collective effort, known as “FRAME,” will now continue for another two years and expand to include new partners, thanks to a grant of $1,175,000 from The Mellon Foundation for a second phase dubbed “Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education II.” Representatives of the DSO and library staff at Ohio State University will join their counterparts from George Mason University, Northern Arizona University, Texas A&M University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Virginia, along with a development and project management team based at the UVA Library. Much of the group’s work will concentrate on expanding and improving EMMA (Educational Materials Made Accessible), a membership-based secure repository for remediated texts, and developing workflows wherein librarians and DSO staff will cooperate in uploading texts to the repository.

“For too long, most academic libraries have left accessibility to their colleagues in disability services, even though it is all about providing information resources for teaching and research. The FRAME project seeks to establish a partnership between libraries and disability service offices, to ensure that remediated content is preserved, organized, and made discoverable for re-use, reducing the duplication of staff effort in order to improve service to students (and faculty) with disabilities,” states Unsworth, who is continuing his role as principal investigator from the first FRAME grant.

Also continuing to support the project will be three major digital repositories: Bookshare, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive. Through a federated search interface, these repositories provide EMMA users with texts that have already been remediated for users with print disabilities or that are machine-readable and suitable for further remediation by DSO staff — a big advantage over having to scan a printed book. Benetech, the parent company of Bookshare, supplied much of the search infrastructure for EMMA in the first phase of the FRAME project and has committed in the second phase to sharing certain cutting-edge technologies to automate parts of the labor-intensive remediation process. In the second year of FRAME II, an additional repository will join the collaboration: the Accessible Content e-Portal sponsored by the Ontario Council of University Libraries.

Another important element of the project is the cooperation of the university presses affiliated with six of the participating universities: George Mason, Illinois, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wisconsin. As publishers of texts that might be used in higher education, the presses have all committed to contributing machine-readable versions of their publications to EMMA or one of its federated repositories.

John Unsworth is joined by FRAME II co-principal investigator J. Stephen Downie, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences. Professor Downie will lead a new educational initiative, developing curricular materials for professional education in library schools. The materials created by Downie and a team of expert collaborators will train library and information professionals in the information needs of students, faculty, and other library users with disabilities. Professor Downie states, “It is truly inspiring to be working with all the project partners at Illinois, Virginia and beyond to realize the promise of the FRAME II vision.”

Read more about the project’s beginnings in 2019 and Mason’s involvement.

Library faculty recognized at Celebration of Teaching Excellence

Maoria Kirker and Wendy Mann were recognized at the 2021 Celebration of Teaching Excellence today, an annual event hosted by the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning at Mason.

Maoria Kirker, Lead of the Teaching & Learning Team at the Libraries and adjunct faculty with the Honors College, received the Adjunct Teacher of Distinction Award. Teacher of Distinction commendations are awarded based on an instructor’s teaching innovation and excellence, commitment to their students, and mentorship activities, among other qualities. To read more about Maoria’s accomplishments and recognition from her students and colleagues, click here for an article written by Mariam Qureshi, Honors College Writing and Reporting Intern (and one of Maoria’s students).

Wendy Mann, Director of the Digital Scholarship Center, received the Distinguished Library Faculty Award. The Distinguished Library Faculty Award is awarded to a library faculty member in recognition of their professional accomplishments, embodiment of the Libraries’ organizational values, and support of the Mason scholarly community. To read more about Wendy’s accomplishments and recognition from her peers, click here for the Libraries’ announcement.

Mann to receive 2021 Distinguished Library Faculty Award

Wendy Mann, Director of the Digital Scholarship Center, has been selected to receive the 2021 Distinguished Library Faculty Award. With this award, she is recognized for her professional accomplishments, her embodiment of the Libraries’ organizational values, and her tremendous support of the Mason scholarly community.

Mann received enthusiastic endorsements from her Digital Scholarship Center (DiSC) colleagues, library and instructional faculty colleagues, and professional colleagues from external organizations – demonstrating her remarkable career and wide impact at Mason and beyond. All agreed that she has distinguished herself through her commitment to her role and her breadth of involvement within the Mason Libraries, around the university, and throughout the region.

Wendy’s contributions in the envisioning and implementation of the DiSC program at Mason, itself a leading development among academic research libraries, is a perfect demonstration of her innovation, collaboration, and leadership. In large measure, it is to her credit that DiSC has evolved into a multidisciplinary digital research hub that has quickly become the “go-to resource” for both student and faculty data support needs.

As one colleague wrote, “Through her knowledge of digital scholarship, and together with the team she has cultivated, Wendy has forged new relationships for the Libraries throughout the University, solidifying the Libraries as an essential partner in research and teaching. Deservedly respected by students, departmental faculty, university administrators, and library colleagues within and beyond Mason, Wendy embodies the qualities the Distinguished Library Faculty Award celebrates.”

The award will be presented officially at Mason’s Celebration of Teaching Excellence ceremony, hosted by The Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning. The Center is working on plans for an updated recognition ceremony for all award winners, either in-person or online, for some time in April 2021. Please join us in congratulating Wendy!