This Week in LIS - 30 May 2014

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Headline of the Week: Tribute to Martha Mary Davis

Yesterday we celebrated twenty-two years of service by Martha Mary Davis to Luther College. Today, May 30th, 2014 Martha Mary Davis will retire from Luther College. As the Serials/Periodicals Coordinator in Preus Library, Martha has done a great job managing 100’s and 100’s of subscriptions for serials and periodicals including ordering, invoice processing, shelving, locating, moving, binding, frequently moving again, all the while keeping meticulous records, and of course, managing all those vendors. Additionally Martha has made team contributions within Technical Services helping balance workload as well as across the LIS team. We are grateful for your contributions and we will miss you.

Working on the Technical Services team was not Martha’s first job. Martha came to Luther College with a rich set of credentials and 20 years of work experience. Martha earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Master of Arts in College Student Personnel, both from the University of Northern Iowa. She worked in retail developing customer service and vendor management skills. She worked in book stores, including one targeting the University environment and one focused on leisure reading. Both tapped into and nurtured her love of books. She served as an Historical Interpreter at Iowa’s Living History Farm helping people understand how history informs current questions. She also served at Clarke College as the Director of Residence Life developing skills in working with students. Today we celebrate that we have been able to leverage and enjoy all those skills at Luther College these last twenty-two years.

There is more, however, to Martha’s contribution. On this special day I’d like to share a couple observations.

The first concerns her leadership - specifically leadership by example - perhaps the best kind. Her leadership is a quiet leadership that begins with outstanding stewardship of her gifts developing skills that her annual performance reviews characterized repeatedly as “professional,” “thorough,” “accurate,” “helpful,” “flexible.”  In particular, “flexibility” was called on repeatedly as changes came to the personal work tools used in her job, new library management systems - in 22 years Martha saw three -  and even in the very materials and the associated business models for the objects of her work.  During this time periodicals and journals were making the transition from physical paper to digital on-line databases and from unique one-at-a-time subscriptions to the “big deals” that bring us 100’s of titles in single transaction. This flexibility in the workplace is so valuable to helping our team navigate change and college libraries have and will continued to experience change.

Another quiet leadership area is in the area of sustainability. Martha intentionally chooses to live simply and is very conscious about what she consumes and the footprint she leaves. She has special interest in energy. Although I have used the word “quiet” twice Martha is also willing to stand up and take a stand working to organize and influence political leaders to the issues of energy and sustainability for our Earth. This priority and approach to life is not lost on the people that Martha connects with. I know it influences me.

That leads me to life-long learning. Martha models this extraordinarily well. Over the years she has sought out resources, e.g. seminars, conferences, classes, for learning new skills so she could stay current and grow her contribution to the Technical Services team. She is also a voracious reader and I know she really enjoys, and will miss, seeing the new library materials go by- making “read me” lists of interesting materials as they are discovered. We have leveraged this as Martha’s role expanded to include managing our Leisure Reading section.  Additionally she has leveraged the Luther College benefit to take classes. As an example Martha has studied German. What an extraordinary example for our students of how to do life-long learning well!

Excellence in your work, leading by example, modelling sustainable living and advocacy and life-long learning. What an extraordinary contribution you have made enrich our community of students, faculty and staff at Luther College. We wish you all the best in the next chapter of your life. We will miss you Martha Mary Davis.

Suggested Reading/Listening/Viewing:

Luther College Tuesday - 5/27/2014


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This Week in LIS is published most Fridays by Paul Mattson, Executive Director of LIS at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

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