McDermott Library Staff Recognized for Excellent Service at 30th Annual Awards Event
When she was growing up, Library Assistant IV Carina Corsiga wanted to be a pop singer; becoming a librarian wasn’t even on her radar. Special Collections Metadata Librarian Liz Martin knew when she was a child she wanted to be a librarian, but as a self-described “terrible singer,” she will never be a contestant on American Idol.
However, the two women have something extra special in common—they are beloved employees of the Eugene McDermott Library, so beloved, in fact, they were both selected by their peers as this year’s Ethel Ward-McLemore Award for Library Excellence award winners, an honor that rewards library staff members who have exhibited outstanding service to the UT Dallas community.
This is an elite award for library professionals who exceed not just doing a job well and instead go beyond what is written in a job title. Martin and Corsiga were presented with a commemorative gold pin, a certificate and a check for $1,000 in a presentation made by Dean of the McDermott Library Ellen Safley at the annual McLemore Awards dinner held on May 14.
“Of the 21 nominations we had for the award this year, 10 were for the two winners, Liz and Carina. This demonstrates how their value is seen all throughout the library, beyond their own departments,” said Brooke Johnson, Reserves Coordinator who headed the 2018 selection committee.
Corsiga was described by colleagues who nominated her for the award as “positive and gracious,” with strong organizational skills who works well under pressure. Born in the Philippines, Corsiga moved to Dallas when she was 3 years old and has always had a creative side, enjoying singing, drawing and painting. Although she didn’t discover her desire to become a librarian until later in her life, she spent many hours in her local public and school libraries.
“Since English was my second language, it was essential for me to read a lot as a child,” she said.
Corsiga started out working the overnight shift at the McDermott Library in 2014 as a Library Assistant III and gradually worked her way up. Shortly after moving to the evening shift, she was promoted to evening supervisor and then day supervisor. Last year, she was promoted again to assistant head of access services. In that role, Corsiga, who has a bachelor’s degree from UT Dallas in Arts and Performance, handles fines and fees, replacement costs for lost items, overdue items and supervises the day staff in Access Services.
But colleagues say she does that and much, much more! When she sees that there is an issue that needs attention, she never hesitates—always with a positive attitude—to step in and offer a logical, well thought out solution. When her supervisor resigned, Corsiga worked with other staff members to ensure her department continued to provide excellent service to students and faculty. She has become “the person everyone turns to, from Circulation staff to Library Administration,” one nomination said.
Another co-worker said, “Carina is an excellent example of leading across the organization. To her staff and our student workers, she provides excellent supervision and guidance. To her peers, she diplomatically corrects when needed, takes initiative often to introduce helpful ideas and consistently inspires by example.
The nomination went on: “The library is a better place with Carina working here.”
“Always eager to help,” “always a pleasure to work with,” “sees no task too hard to master” and “talented and hardworking to boot” are just a few phrases used to describe Liz Martin. Multiple library employees sung her praises and nominated her for the award. Many noted her big part in planning the move of Special Collections’ aviation collection to its new home across campus, her dedication to Special Collections and the library and her positive attitude.
“Liz is always eager to help anyone in any situation, no matter the task at hand. No task is beneath her and she is always looking for ways to help her colleagues,” said one nomination.
Martin, who started working evenings at the library four years ago in Circulation with no prior library experience, now “has the coolest job in the library!” She now catalogs resources in Special Collections so that they are discoverable in the library catalog. She also handles inventory, manages student workers who upkeep the stacks, and she’s also involved in Special Collections’ social media accounts and is a member of the University’s Staff Council.
“I love working with all of the cool material. I have the best job in the library,” Martin said. “I not only get to see the materials, I get to examine them, leaf through them and analyze them in order to describe them in a library record.”
The Fort Worth native says the most interesting part of her job is the materials she works with—centuries-old books, first editions, signed copies, furry books, books that were part of a major historical event and more. “It’s like having a piece of history right in your hands,” she said.
Martin, who has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from The University of Texas at Arlington and a master’s degree in Information Science from the University of North Texas, says the most challenging part about her job is keeping up with the ever-changing standards that catalogers must abide by when describing material and “doing the material justice when describing it.”
The awards are funded by the late Ethel Ward-McLemore and her husband Robert. Ethel, one of the first female geophysicists, was also a published author of several books. Ward-McLemore often visited McDermott Library. Impressed with the service she received, she established an endowment fund to reward the outstanding efforts of the library staff.
Because this year was the milestone McLemore event—the 30th—organizers wanted to make the awards ceremony even more special. They held the event in the new Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center, invited past winners and introduced a “Director’s Toast,” allowing each department’s director to highlight their departments in addition to the dean’s announcement and celebration of the two winners.