Thursday, June 4, 2009

Student Essays Reveal Appreciation for UMKC Libraries’ Faculty and Staff

UMKC Friends of the Library recently pledged $20,000 over the next 5 years to endow an annual scholarship open to degree seeking students from any school or discipline. For 2009, applicants were asked to submit a 500-1000 word essay responding to the phrase “What UMKC’s Libraries mean to me.” 49 essays were received from undergraduate, professional, graduate, and doctoral students representing ten schools and as many varied disciplines.

The scholarship committee was expecting to hear things about the Libraries as a home away from home, where students meet, study, eat, and sleep before and between classes. They also thought there would be testimonials to how a particular book or database contributed to the student’s education and understanding of a topic. While each of these topics certainly were mentioned in the essays, another, often taken for granted, theme recurred in almost every one of the papers: the helpfulness of UMKC Libraries’ faculty and staff. The following excerpt is from a student who even went so far as to mention several folks by name.

“After finishing my master’s degree, I moved back to Kansas City and decided to get a doctorate with an emphasis in linguistics and history of science through the university’s Interdisciplinary PhD program. The collection in these subjects provided a good starting basis for my research. I soon made friends with the wonderful staff, David Bauer, Darnell Williams and Cynthia Thompson in the interlibrary loan department. Whatever was not in the collection, they could get. I would sometimes put in the most seemingly odd and rare requests, such as a group of color card swatches from 1829, and lo and behold, the wonderful interlibrary loan people would track them down! I can’t express enough admiration for the hard work this staff has done on my behalf. They have not only been great at finding rare history of science and linguistics texts, but have also helped me keep track of the due dates and get things returned or renewed on time. The interlibrary loan staff has really gone beyond the call of duty…For my research into journals, on-line sources and microfilm Diane Hunter, in reference services, has been most helpful. She knows just where to look for things and has always made an extra effort to help me find articles, operate the microfiche machines and generally guide me around all the possible and diverse resources the library has to offer...The Music Media department is also wonderful! I often check out compact discs for my own listening pleasure. The Music Media department has many rare old jazz and classical recordings. Laura Gayle Green has done a great job training the staff there. They always find what I’m looking for. Chuck Haddix at the Marr archives at Miller Nichols also provides a wonderful service. His radio program and rare music collection are world class.” - Tanya Kelley, IPhD student studying English and History

While Dean Bostick and the Friends of the Library board always knew how critical hardworking, user-focused librarians and staff members are to providing high-quality library services, it was both a surprise and treat to learn that our students recognize and appreciate what an asset the Libraries’ staff are to their education. The winning essay can be read in its entirety online at

-Written by Mark Mattison, Advancement Officer, UMKC Libraries

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