Fairfield University's DiMenna-Nyselius Library honored with the first Innovation Award by the Connecticut Library Association (CLA)

Fairfield University's DiMenna-Nyselius Library was honored with the first ever Innovation Award by the Connecticut Library Association (CLA) for four projects that judges said should be models for other libraries throughout the state.

Betty Anne Reiter, acting director of the Groton Public Library and an award judge, said that the entries from the DiMenna-Nyselius Library demonstrated a level of originality, content and design that presented the judges of the 2008 CLA Publicity Awards Contest with a challenge of how to appropriately honor the library for their great achievement. "Invoking a rule that allowed them to give 'additional awards if merited,' the judges proposed the Innovation Award - the first ever - to signify the overall quality and creativity shown by the designers of each of the entries. Joan Overfield (director of library services) and her team of designers, Leslie Porter, Ramona Islam, Jacalyn Kremer and Curtis Ferree, are using technology in ways that will serve as models for other libraries throughout the state."

The library was recognized for "Fairfield Beach: The Library," an interactive library orientation film; "Meet the Databases," podcasts that began as a contribution to Fairfield's iTunes U; "Screencasts," a series of how-to videos to help the growing number of online patrons; and "Your Voice Counts," a popular blog on reading. (Visit fairfield.edu/lib_home.html to see the award winners.)

The CLA Publicity Awards program accepts nominations annually from member libraries for materials designed to promote a library concept or event. A panel of two or more designers and artists and a representative from the library field judge the entries for originality, design and content.

"Fairfield Beach: The Library" was a collaboration with the University's Media Center that spoofs the TV soap opera, "Laguna Beach." The movie was produced as a vehicle for freshman to become aware of the library's services in an entertaining manner. It spiced up required library orientation sessions for freshman English courses.

It also met with rave reviews. Written by Ramona Islam, senior reference librarian and instruction coordinator, and Leslie Porter, formerly reference and instruction librarian, the film asks patrons to steer Julie, a college student, through her complicated love life. "Meet the Databases" is a series of short, entertaining podcasts aimed at demystifying database searching. Realizing that straight descriptions of databases might be dry, librarians, inspired by their favorite radio shows, created "talking" databases using an iPod, a microphone and GarageBand software. Excerpts of the podcasts served as library public service announcements on WVOF, the campus radio station. The project also won a Connecticut Quality Improvement Association Gold Award for Innovation.

"Screencasts" were produced in response to trends showing students are increasingly accessing library resources online. The hope was to bolster the library's do-it-yourself database services, and add to the library's growing collection of online how-to demonstrations of popular search tools. They also serve students taking Fairfield's distance learning and hybrid courses by providing research assistance 24/7 anywhere.

The library was also recognized for creating a blog that enriched the summer reading program for freshmen last year. It received 4,800 hits, an impressive number considering the freshmen class totals 812. Among the goals of the blog were to engage freshmen in meaningful online book discussions during the summer, and to enhance book discussions held later in the library. Librarians also saw the blog as an avenue to reach out to freshmen before they arrived on campus, positioning the library as the number one place for research with friendly staff and a strong technology focus. In addition, the blog has been a way to foster a sense of community among new students, residence hall staff and University staff.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 22, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 14

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