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Bruno, Hierl Receive Ishimoto Award

Ishimoto Award ishimoto award

The two winners of the 2009 Carol Ishimoto Award for Distinguished Service in the Harvard College Library were recognized on Thursday, December 10 by Nancy Cline, the Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College. Left, Tom Bruno, Head of Resource Sharing at Widener Library, accompanied by Associate Librarian Marilyn Wood and Cheryl McGrath, Head of Widener Library Access Services, accepts the award. Right, Sebastian Hierl, Librarian for Western Europe, receives his award.

December 10, 2009 – Thomas Bruno, Head of Resource Sharing at Widener Library, and Sebastian Hierl, Librarian for Western Europe, have been named the winners of the 2009 Carol Ishimoto Award for Distinguished Service in the Harvard College Library.

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Created through a 1991 endowment established by Carol Ishimoto, former Associate Librarian of Harvard College for Cataloging and Processing, the award annually recognizes a member or group of the professional staff who has advanced the mission of the College Library through exceptional contributions and leadership, and includes a cash award and citation for creative professional achievement of the highest order.

“Congratulations to the winners of the nineteenth annual Ishimoto Award,” said Nancy Cline, the Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College. “It is inspiring to see the nominations that are put forward every year – HCL has many staff whose contributions deserve recognition. This year’s recipients, however, truly stand out for their leadership, dedication to improving service across all Harvard libraries and enthusiasm for building a community among staff and library patrons. Tom and Sebastian are among the best ambassadors for Harvard College Library.”

Bruno was nominated in recognition of his oversight of an Interlibrary Loan system that saw dramatic growth in the past year, for leading an effort to implement and train staff in the use of ILLiad software across Harvard libraries and for his work to roll out Harvard’s new Scan and Deliver service.

“I cannot recommend Tom strongly enough for this award,” Cheryl McGrath, Head of Widener Library Access Services, wrote in nominating Bruno. “He has done everything that was expected of him, has taken the opportunity to push himself to develop as a leader, and has built a community around new library services, helping to ensure their success.”

Bruno’s leadership, McGrath said, played a key role in the successful roll-out of Harvard’s new Scan and Deliver service. The service allows faculty, students and staff to submit requests for book excerpts and journal articles, which are electronically scanned and sent to patrons via e-mail. Bruno oversaw all training and documentation materials for the new service, helped develop workflows and provided a constant stream of enthusiasm for the project.

“This was a huge project, to create a new, unified service for all Harvard libraries,” McGrath said. “Tom has been instrumental in making sure staff members at all Harvard libraries are trained and operational on this service. I greatly appreciate his can-do attitude.”

Bruno also helped ease what could have been a rocky transition, as all Harvard libraries adopted the use of ILLiad software, which allows staff to track and fulfill Interlibrary Loan and Scan and Deliver requests submitted by library patrons. To assist in the transition, Bruno held several weekly Open Labs at Widener Library and made troubleshooting “house-calls” at various libraries. It was that personal touch that helped the project succeed, McGrath said.

“Tom could have developed and distributed a workflow via email and left it to the other libraries to learn the software and apply the workflow at they saw fit,” she wrote. “Instead, he approached this challenge by creating a community of users at Harvard, enlisting support from key stakeholders in the ILL community, creating and leading a team of ILLiad experts and by always being available, often in person, to staff as they struggled with the new system.”

The Interlibrary Loan (ILL) division overseen by Bruno also saw significant increases in both borrowing and lending in the past year, with requests increasing by nearly nine percent and a 50 percent increase in filled borrowing requests, McGrath wrote.

Since arriving at Harvard College Library in 2005, Hierl has met extraordinary professional challenges, materially enhanced the college library’s collections and played at active role in professional activity both at Harvard and nationally, all while maintaining a “cheerful, collegial, patient and generous” demeanor, wrote Alison Scott, Widener Senior Collection Development Librarian and Charles Warren Bibliographer for American History.

Though he initially accepted bibliographic responsibility for materials from Germanic-language areas of Europe, Hierl’s work has grown to encompass a wide array of languages, publishing traditions and formats.

“Sebastian today collects materials from Finland and Sweden in the north to Malta and Corsica in the south; from Breton and French in the west to Hungarian, Albanian and Romanian in the east; from books, periodicals and digital resources to posters, movies and ephemera; and all that lies between,” Scott wrote. “Ordinary mortals would have fallen under the bibliographic load, Sebastian not only stands, but thrives.”

In fact, Hierl’s skills as a manager, planner and leader have led to significant improvements in the library’s collecting efforts. He led the development of a half-dozen new approval plans, bringing efficiency and predictability to very difficult areas of collecting and managed the on-going review of several long-standing plans. Hierl also instituted direct-ordering through the library’s primary German book vendor, resulting in the elimination of a significant backlog of orders and receipts, and worked closely with colleagues in Widener Collection Development, as well as librarians in Fine Arts, Loeb Music, Cabot, Tozzer, Countway, Design and Law libraries to coordinate eliminate unnecessary duplication of serials and periodicals.

In addition to his usual collecting activities, Hierl was able to make several large and significant acquisitions, most notably the Lothar and Eva Just Film Still Collection, now a part of the Harvard Film Archive, which was purchased collaboratively by units in Widener Library Collection Development and the Fine Arts Library. In addition to what would normally be purchased, Hierl was also able to coordinate the acquisition of 8,000 monographs using the President’s Fund.

Despite all the challenges on his time, Hierl remains engaged with the public, interpretive work of the library. By request, he has developed and continues to improve a number of research sites, including the Germanic Research Web, the German Film Database and Rinascimento, and is an active participant in orientation sessions for a wide range of graduate students, faculty and research fellows, as well as a wide array of national and international groups.