Library support staff member receives state award

September 12 2008

In the coda of Nancy Watkins' career at Indiana State University's Cunningham Memorial Library, the interlibrary loan supervisor, who is also an accomplished musician, has been selected to receive a statewide award.

Watkins will be presented the Indiana Library Federation's 2008 Outstanding Support Staff Award in November.

"She truly deserves it," said Alberta Comer, interim dean of the library, who nominated Watkins.

Watkins said it was thoughtful of Comer to nominate her, but that it also embarrassed her.

"It's nice to recognize support staff in the library," Watkins said. "Librarians generally get recognition. Libraries depend on support staff just like other academic departments o keep their wheels turning."

The federation's awards and honors reception is set for Nov. 19 in Indianapolis in conjunction with its annual conference.

Watkins began working at the library in 1988 in library instruction and orientation. Then 11 years ago she became the interlibrary loan supervisor for the additional challenge.

"ISU library's ILL (interlibrary loan) department is one of the top 10 lenders in Indiana, much of it because of Ms. Watkins' dedication to always provide the best service to ISU patrons as well as to the patrons of requesting libraries," Comer wrote in her nomination letter.

But Watkins plans to step down from that position in January and retire from ISU. Before joining the library, Watkins taught as an adjunct professor in the ISU music department, where her husband was a professor. Music has remained in her life as she played the trumpet for years in the ISU Faculty Brass Quintet. She continues to play the French horn with the Terre Haute Symphony, the baritone with the Terre Haute Community Band and the trumpet with the Stonehenge Jazz Band.

Watkins has resumed working as librarian for the symphony, something she did prior to accepting a full-time position at the ISU library. After retirement, she also plans to spend time with her growing number of grandchildren in Terre Haute and Indianapolis, as well as tackle some home projects. She also looks forward to being able to attend more Osher Lifelong Learning Institute classes.

But she has enjoyed her years working at ISU.

"The library is a rewarding place to work," she said. "You get to work with a lot of nice people, and you're in a position to help faculty and students in their academic needs."

Comer said for the past 20 years, Watkins has been able to get the job done in innovative and creative ways.

"Giver her lemons and, while others might make lemonade, she will make lemonade, lemon cookies and lemon meringue pie, all while making sure that everyone is included when the praises are handed out," she said.

Watkins said the award isn't just about her work.

"This is a representative honor for all the support staff who do their jobs," she said. "This is also an honor for Indiana State and Cunningham Memorial Library. I certainly haven't pulled the library along, it's all of us working together."

Photo: Nancy Watkins

Contact: Nancy Watkins, interlibrary loan supervisor, Indiana State University, at 812-237-2568 or  

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, at 812-237-7972 or

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Nancy Watkins, a 20-year veteran of ISU's Cunningham Memorial Library, has been selected to receive the Indiana Library Federation's 2008 Support Staff Award.

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