Celebrating Cathy Martin and Helene Koonjbeharrydass, winners of the 2020 McGill Library Excellence Awards

Huge congratulations are in order for the 2020 recipients of the McGill Library Excellence Awards, which recognize outstanding contributions to the Library, its users and its mandate.

Cathy Martin, Coordinator and Liaison Librarian at the Marvin Duchow Music Library received the Librarian Excellence Award and Helene Koonjbeharrydass, Supervisor, Receiving & Processing, and Database Maintenance received the Library Staff Excellence Award.

The awards were presented in our first-ever virtual meeting of all Library staff members on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. Although we aren’t able to celebrate in person right now, we congratulate Cathy and Helene on these very well-deserved awards and look forward to future celebrations!

Screenshot of Cathy Martin on Zoom receiving award   Screen shot of Helene Koonjbeharrydass on Zoom receiving award






Cathy Martin, Coordinator and Liaison Librarian | Librarian Excellence Award

Headshot of Cathy Martin smilingCathy was nominated by her colleagues for her excellence as a librarian, mentor and colleague. The Marvin Duchow Music Library staff rely on her clear vision and service implementation and they know that they can always approach her with new ideas. Cathy has created and manages an access services team to address any enhancements needed. Two recent examples are a service desk triage procedure and an AV equipment online reservation request system for Music faculty and students.

Cathy has been the driving force to upgrade and document the Music Library staff policies and procedures. Under her guidance and support, all Music Library staff are encouraged to participate in managing and maintaining these documents. The goal is to have an accessible operating manual for current staff and, at the same time, create a succession plan for future employees. This has proven to be an extremely valuable resource.

A consummate professional, Cathy approaches every situation with a positive outlook and a genuine smile. From October 2018 to May 2019, her responsibilities increased as she took on the role of Interim Music Head Librarian. She was instrumental in successfully navigating full-time and part-time staff through this transition period with grace, patience and endurance. In October 2018, the Marvin Duchow Music Library’s newest exhibition, Women, Work, and Song in Nineteenth-Century France was launched. She worked closely with the curator and her organizational skills played a major part in the success of that exhibit.

Thanks to Cathy’s leadership as Editor-in-Chief of CAML Review, the journal of the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres, the journal added a peer review section, raising its impact and prestige. In this role, Cathy supported, and at times mentored, many Canadian music information professionals in achieving their scholarly communications goals.

Patrons and colleagues appreciate Cathy’s capabilities and resourcefulness. Not only does she continuously upgrade her own skills, she empowers her colleagues in the same way. She champions teamwork and collaboration both with her colleagues and with the wider McGill community. The quality of Cathy’s work and actions and the integrity of her intent are first rate, always.

Helene Koonjbeharrydass, Supervisor, Reserves & Acquisitions | Staff Excellence Award

Headshot of Helene Koonjbeharrydass smilingHelene was nominated by her colleagues because each day, she embodies and carries out the Library’s mission and mandate consistently and with excellence. She leads and supervises the team handling new acquisitions, new materials, cataloguing and processing, a team of five Library Assistants. She monitors the activities of the department: processing new material, re-labeling old material, creating accession numbers for material in the Redpath basement and Rare Books; preparing material for binding and sending material for cataloguing. Helene always ensures that no backlogs develop, and that the goals for turnaround time are met, taking preventative action where necessary.

Helene provides training and mentoring for staff, keeping documentation up-to-date and varying the degree of supervision according to what is needed. Where appropriate she metes out tasks a few at a time and she is always patient and ready to receive and answer questions. Helene is a good communicator and ensures that everyone understands the big picture, where their work fits in, and why they are important team members.

Helene’s success is due in large part to leading by example, working hard and giving her best to everything she does. She also has a great amount of flexibility. Projects change due to unforeseen circumstances and she is unfazed. She rolls with the punches and applies herself to the variation on a theme, or a new theme altogether, like dropping barcoding theses in Rare Books, a planned goal, and working instead in the Redpath basement, otherwise known as STOR MAIN.

Helene’s colleagues appreciate her patience and generosity. They also appreciate her thanking them individually and collectively for their work. Her gratitude is not just verbal but often tangible in the form of homemade treats, which everyone loves!

In short, Helene arrives every morning with a smile and it’s catching. Her glass is always half full and her positive attitude, along with her serious down-to-business attitude, elicits the same from staff and explains the success of her unit.

For a complete list of past award winners, visit the Library website here.

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