University of Rochester

Librarian Ann Marshall Earns 2009 Messinger Award

November 10, 2009

One day while completing her social sciences PhD thesis in a carrel at Syracuse University Library, Ann Marshall realized "this is where I am happy. I'm happy in the library."

Because of that realization, Marshall went on to get a master's degree in library science, and then brought her love for scholarly research and seemingly endless energy to Rush Rhees Library. In the six and a half years since she came on board, the subject librarian for political sciences has become one of the most valued members of the staff.

In recognition of her exemplary contributions, Marshall has been selected as the 2009 recipient of the Messinger Library Recognition Award. The honor, created and funded by senior trustee Martin Messinger '49, comes with a $5,000 award.

"She really encompasses everything we're looking for in a subject librarian," says Katie Clark, associate dean for public services and collection development. In addition to Marshall's sensitivity to scholars' needs and her efforts to build the library's political science collection, Clark notes how quickly Marshall has risen professionally. Last year, she was elected chair of the law and political science section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a recognition not typically bestowed on someone so new to the field.

Marshall also was one of the library's first writing tutors and continues to teach a freshman writing class, one of only two librarians who teach credit courses. During a two-year study on how students use the library, Marshall served as a team leader and authored a chapter for a book on the project. "She stretches herself all the time," says Clark.

For Gerald Gamm, chair of the political science department, Marshall "makes Harkness Hall an annex of the library." She holds hours every Friday in the department, consults with graduate students and faculty, attends departmental seminars, and travels to national political science meetings. "I cannot think of another university that has this kind of relationship with their bibliographer," concludes Gamm.

For all of her many activities, Marshall herself finds some of her most rewarding moments on the job come from working one-on-one with students. She loved participating in the library's anthropology study of students, "understanding the student's experience from different perspective" and enjoys her writing class, this year titled Peaceful Warrior: An Investigation into Violence and Nonviolence. As a front-line reference librarian, though, nothing pleases her more than being able to help a frustrated student who "can't seem to find anything." Once she shows them how to navigate the library's many databases, "it's like, 'Oh, isn't it amazing what's out there.' "

"It may sound funny," adds Marshall modestly, "but, we save people time."

The annual Messinger Award honors contributions that advance the educational mission of the library or the library profession. Earlier Messinger Awards were awarded to Suzanne Bell, librarian for economics and data and administrator for the University's institutional repository (UR Research), and Sally Roche, the libraries' facilities manager. Modeled after the annual Goergen Awards, presented for outstanding undergraduate teaching in the College, the Messinger Award calls attention to the library's vital role at the University. "The library is unique in attracting students and faculty," Messinger says.

A longtime sponsor of the libraries, Messinger funded the 1998 restoration of the periodical reading room, the 2005 renovation of the reference and circulation desk area, and the creation of two graduate student study rooms, one opened in August and the other slated for completion in May 2010.