Marshall Center librarian wins national honors
September 18, 2008
GARMISCH, Germany - Marshall Center library technician Jill Golden was honored as the 2007 Federal Library Technician of the Year during a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., Sept. 12.
The Library of Congress' Federal Library and Information Center Committee annually recognizes the best federal libraries, librarians and library technicians for their innovation in meeting customer needs.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington presented Golden the award, which cited her exceptional commitment, innovative thinking and technical skills in serving an international community of users.
Overall, the Marshall Center Research Library provides services to military officers and civilian government officials participating in programs at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, a U.S.-German security and defense studies institute located on Sheridan Kaserne in Garmisch. In 2007, the library staff of nine worked with more than 800 course participants from 71 countries, along with visiting researchers and the center's multinational faculty and staff.
The library provides resources and services in the same three languages in which the center conducts its resident courses - English, German and Russian.
From her position at the circulation desk, the Russian-speaking library technician is invaluable in making first contact with many course participants, said Golden's colleague, systems librarian Kathryn Davis.
"By greeting participants in their native language and with her can-do spirit, she quickly puts even the most reserved at ease," Davis said. "And because of her Russian proficiency, she is often called upon to provide reference service to Russian-language participants, which she does as well as any professional librarian."
Golden, who has been at the Marshall Center since October 2004, said she enjoys working with such diverse patrons.
"I am always learning something, in engaging with people from Mongolia or South Africa or Slovenia," she noted, adding that she continues to be surprised by what course participants sometimes tell her of the difficulties in trying to find books in their countries.
For example, "One participant from South Africa (told me) that it is so hard for them to get these kinds of books in their ministry library, for budget reasons," Golden recalled. "I'm always surprised that books I take for granted, people are really pleased to have access to here."
Golden routinely looks for opportunities to improve customers' access to resources, said Davis, even when that means going beyond the library walls when necessary.
"The library is frequently asked to purchase books for participants, but this is prohibited, and it is very difficult, nearly impossible, for them to purchase directly from the U.S.," Davis explained. "Jill coordinated with the local post exchange to stock course 'bestsellers,' giving participants a way to purchase the books locally."
Other projects that Golden worked on in 2007 included planning upgrades to library's Web pages found on the student network and compiling weekly resource alerts for participants in the center's main course, the three-month Program in Advanced Security Studies. These and other efforts showed students the holdings and services that are available to them not only while they are in Garmisch, but also after they have graduated and returned to their home countries.
Despite having volunteered in her hometown library when she was a teen and working in her college library, Golden did not originally plan to begin a career in the library sciences. After graduating in June 2004 with a bachelor's degree in Russian studies from Minnesota's Carleton College, she began focusing on putting her language skills to work, which the position at the Marshall Center certainly allows her to do. However, the work here proved so interesting that she began working on a master's degree in library sciences, which she will complete in December.
Library director Marcy Hampton said that Golden is undoubtedly the most impressive technician she has worked with in more than 30 years of federal service. Such credit, Golden said, goes to those around her.
"Any good work I've done here is because I have a great boss and great colleagues that teach me," Golden said. "Not many libraries let their technician write up plans for redesigning their Web site."