University of Rochester

Database Expert Wins First Messinger Library Recognition Award

July 23, 2007

You could call librarian Suzanne Bell the University of Rochester's database queen.

She's the main reason there are more than 4,100 items in the University's institutional repository, UR Research, which holds papers and publications created by faculty and students. She provides assistance and guidance to those using the University's subscription databases, and is the University's representative on campus for the largest collection of social science datasets in the country, the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, ICPSR. She even wrote a textbook, The Librarian's Guide to Online Searching, about combing through databases.

It's for those reasons and more that Bell was selected as the first recipient of the Messinger Library Recognition Award. The honor, created and funded by senior trustee Martin E. Messinger, comes with a $5,000 award.

Messinger said the award is modeled after the Goergen Awards, which are given each year for accomplishments in undergraduate teaching at the College. There are three Goergen awards, named for trustee Robert Goergen and his wife Pamela, given annually, and they each come with a prize of at least $5,000.

"I wanted to afford the library staff the same level of recognition as the faculty," he said. "This demonstrates that the work that they do in the library is as important as any in the academic setting."

The award will be given annually to a River Campus Libraries employee selected by the River Campus Libraries dean, associate deans, and director of the Carlson Science Library. They will consider contributions that advance the educational mission of the library or the library profession.

Ronald Dow, the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, said Bell is the ideal recipient to receive the first Messinger Award for all that she contributes to the academic community.

"She's incredibly energetic, personable, intelligent and a real model and inspiration in the library," he said. "She's really someone you want to emulate in terms of her spirit and the way she works with students and faculty."

Bell impressed Messinger recently when she created a specialized guide to all of the business databases available on campus. Dow also noted that she was the first person on the library staff to take part in an outreach effort by the library to hold office hours in academic buildings around campus. Bell, who is the librarian for economics and data, used to hold office hours Tuesday evenings at the Simon Graduate School of Business' Career Resource Center. Her visits became a template for other subject librarians who now hold similar office hours in their respective academic departments.

Bell said she is very honored to receive the first Messinger award and thinks it's a great recognition of the work she and her colleagues do on campus every day.

"I think it is a wonderful development for the River Campus Libraries in that it provides a tangible expression of the value we bring to the academic life of campus," she said.

Messinger is a major supporter of the University's library system. In addition to funding the new award, he's also given the University gifts to renovate one of the periodical reading rooms in Rush Rhees Library in 1998 and the reference and circulation desk area of the library in 2005.