2022-2023 Lofton Family Scholars

In 2022-2023 IU Libraries recognized the first Lofton Family Student Employee Excellence Scholarship winners. Four exceptional IU Libraries Lilly Library student employees were celebrated for outstanding student contributions to IU’s rare book and manuscript library.

Scholar Erika Giddens

Erika Giddens, who hopes to be a special collections librarian or work for a antiquarian bookseller, is a Master of Library Science student at the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. Those who nominated her for the Lofton Scholarship praised her impeccable work, flexibility, and expertise. When asked about working at the Lilly Library, though, Giddens put her colleagues before the work. “The highlight has been working with thoughtful and knowledgeable rare book experts who encourage every opportunity for curiosity and professional development. The main value of special collections is not the books; it's the people. I am very lucky to work for wonderfully kind and supportive people.”

Giddens creates records for uncatalogued materials, specifically Charles Dickens-related items, making them discoverable by students, faculty, and scholars. In addition to cataloging, she excels at reference tasks: expertly handling digitizing requests; consulting with researchers; and investigating holdings of similar institutions when the Lilly Library does not have materials requested.

Giddens' love of rare books and manuscripts is evident. “Rare books and manuscripts are traces of history that you can hold in your hands. Whether you are interested in the history of science and medicine, literature, comic books, or bicycling, Lilly Library’s collections have materials that can help you reach into the past. Rare books and manuscripts tell us the story of ourselves: our values, traditions, and history.”

Scholar Diana Fernandez

Diana Fernandez is the only undergraduate Lofton Family Scholar. She has proved herself indispensable when working the Lilly Library reception desk, as well as its Reading Room. “We are so grateful that we had Diana working this semester,” her nominators wrote, “and that we were able to rely on her to help keep the Library running smoothly.” Being multi-lingual, Fernandez’s language skills are utilized working with materials and to communicate with guests to the Lilly Library.

Scholar Brandis Malone

Having earned her undergraduate degree in Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, Brandis Malone now incorporates her expertise into her work at the Lilly Library. A dual masters student, she is getting a degree from the Russian and East European Institute along side her Master of Library Science. Librarians note that her near-fluency and knowledge are priceless with reference and cataloging tasks involving Slavic languages. For instance, Malone completed full-level, original cataloging for Russian books, complying with best practices and standards. Her nominators said she is “one of the most astute and focused students in our experience. We admire her independence of mind, her forward-thinking approach, and her absolute commitment to understanding the intellectual objects she values.”

Malone, who aspires to be a rare books cataloger, is enamored with the history rare books hold. “I like to imagine the people who made them, who wrote them, who read them. Each one is unique in its own way and provides a valuable window into our past,” she said.

The librarians and staff at Lilly Library have made Malone feel both supported and fulfilled. “I’ve never worked in a place where I’ve truly felt comfortable learning, exploring, and growing. Every day I feel like I learn something new. Everyone here is incredibly knowledgeable and amazing, and I’m so thankful that I was able to find a place here,” she said.

Scholar Cassidy Polack

“Academic background paired with her natural good cataloging instincts serve to make her an excellent bibliographical researcher, and her wide-ranging knowledge across disciplines allows her to forge the kinds of creative and imaginative connections that make our collections come alive. She has great potential to pursue any number of paths in rare book and special collections librarianship," said the Lilly Library staff nominating Cassidy Polack. 

Polack is in her second year of the Master of Library Science (M.L.S.) degree program at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. She has spent those months working at the Lilly Library in various roles. Her talent at helping relabel the 380-drawer card catalog in the Reading Room particularly impressed one of her nominators. When it comes to cataloging, this soon-to-be librarian has a wide range: law, medical history, Latin American collections, and books in languages including French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. She has also tackled different formats: broadsides; maps; and multiple volumes bound together.