Excellence award given to senior librarian

March 31, 2006 | Mike Key
Jean Phillips received the 2006 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Servicee to the University of Wisconsin.

Jean Phillips received the 2006 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Servicee to the University of Wisconsin.

MADISON-Jean Phillips, senior librarian of SSEC’s Schwerdtfeger Library received The 2006 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Service to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It is one of several excellence awards given to academic staff each year.

During her tenure, Jean has positively transformed the Schwerdtfeger Library. The Library’s mission, environment, clientele and philosophy are all very different now than they were when she began in 1986. In nominating Phillips for this honor, SSEC Director Hank Revercomb noted that “She has evolved this library into a first class, state of the art information source with a mission to provide any and all of the information that we need to do our work.” The philosophy in the library can best be described as “above and beyond proactive.”

“Jean, more often than not, is able to take a request, understand the underlying research need and provide a more focused and higher quality response than what was anticipated,” writes director Henry Revercomb. “When clients have this experience, their working relationship with the library increases significantly, thus improving the ultimate output of the research.”

“In the early 1990s,” David Houghton says, “I became aware, first hand, of not only her abilities to build a first-class library but her abilities to build a bridge between the Space Science and Engineering Center and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.” Steve Ackerman comments, “She has helped hundreds of students earn their degrees and supported scientists, faculty and visiting scholars as they gather resources to conduct research and prepare proposals.” Many of these scientists and students continue to rely on Jean for advice and assistance long after they leave SSEC. Her work with researchers and graduate students from various departments has been extraordinary in nature and scope.

Dan Bull comments, “Professionally Jean represents all that is best and hopeful about the library profession. She has retained the spirit of old library traditions with their emphasis on interpersonal communication and customer service and integrated them with the many changes new technology has brought to the field. She employs the resulting dynamic to full advantage. The woman is a human search engine.” She possesses an uncanny ability to manage the various client requests as if each were the only one. Hank Revercomb agrees, “It is all done with a professionalism that is rooted in a deep knowledge of the subject, not to mention energy, enthusiasm and good humor.”

Under Jean’s leadership, the Library adopted and developed new systems affording users improved access to information, primarily in the atmospheric sciences. She has expanded reference services, embraced the electronic era by making collections available on the web; introduced electronic cataloging; incorporated modern search and retrieval techniques and systems; taught classes; created, expanded and preserved collections; created research tools; and sought outside funding for collection preservation and access.

Jean’s influence extends beyond the Schwerdtfeger Library. She has served on campus academic staff and library committees throughout her career, and was most recently elected to chair the Atmospheric Science Librarians International (ASLI), a network of information professionals in the field. ASLI provides guidance to Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, producers of Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts, the primary research database for the atmospheric sciences. Her contributions to the community include the presentation of programs to the children at the Allied Drive Learning Center, crisis line volunteer for Dane County Advocates for Battered Women, Vice-President, then President of the Middleton Elm Lawn Elementary School PTA, among others.

Dan Bull sums it up by saying that “The zeal with which she pursues her responsibilities to the University makes me proud to be her colleague. Suffice it to say, Jean inspires imitation.”

Jean is “honored and thrilled to be recognized in this way,” but points out that the Schwerdtfeger Library is a success because everyone involved, staff, administrators, and users, have all been committed to our common mission.

Winners of the Excellence Awards will be recognized at a gathering in May with Chancellor Wiley as well as at the May meeting of the Academic Staff Assembly.



Direct comments, suggestions and inquiries to Terri Gregory, SSEC’s Public Information Coordinator. For past features and columns, see SSEC’s News page.

31 March 2006 jao