Image Credit: CIU Archives P0096258 | The Herman B Wells Library is pictured here in 1969, the same year Robert A. Oppliger graduated from Indiana University with an MS in Education.
Oppliger Award recognizes future librarian
Stephanie Brown was recently selected for the IU Libraries Robert A. Oppliger Scholarship Award in recognition of her steady and significant contributions as a student employee. The future librarian was already helping students in Scholars' Commons at the IU Libraries as a Reference Assistant when campus closed this spring. Continuing her work and study remotely, Brown graduated with a Masters in Library Science in May.
Acknowledging Brown’s professionalism, nominators used words such as dependable, polite, and knowledgeable to describe her. Noting her calm demeanor, one librarian commented Brown “is not easily frazzled and enjoys tackling difficult questions.” Another recommendation stated, “Her attitude and work ethic make her an asset at the Reference Desk and will undoubtedly make her an excellent librarian.”
Brown received her BA in history in 2013 from IU and her teaching certificate from the IU School of Education's Transition to Teaching program in 2014. She was eager to teach. After four years, she still craved instruction and helping people, but in a different environment. Subsequently, she did a bit of research and decided being a librarian was “a better fit than the traditional school classroom.” Even though she misses high school students, she loves “engaging with library patrons at Wells Library, no matter their age.”
Specializing in Archives and Records Management, Brown not only works the Scholars Commons' Reference Desk and virtual reference services, she worked with the University Archives as an intern and has been a processing assistant at the Lilly Library. Brown loved plowing through complicated collections at the Lilly Library, giving them arrangement, order, and describing them for access.
“In regards to the Archives position,” Brown states, “I was able to bridge my skills from teaching... and my new love for libraries/archives and library instruction. Outreach Archivist Carrie Schwier gave me leeway to plan instructional activities based on the primary sources in the IU Archives, as well as develop online tutorials and other resources to help users navigate the Archives’ online finding aids. This type of work gets to the core of what I hope to be able to provide someday, academic library instruction, and so the experience with them was deeply rewarding.”
Upon winning the Oppliger Award, Brown met virtually with Dr. Oppliger and Executive Director of Development for IU Libraries Pete Rhoda. She explained that working the Reference Desk was invaluable to her education: “My experiences at the Reference Desk related directly to the theories and practices I learned about in my classes. While we read and discussed aspects of librarianship such as search practices, database design, patron services, diversity in the library, etc. in class, I was able to actually practice at the desk."
As one of Brown's nominators shared, "We are fortunate to have worked with her during her time at I.U."
Interestingly, both Brown and Dr. Oppliger have an education background. Dr. Oppliger received his BS ’67 and MS ’69 in Education from Indiana University. He was a proud member of the swim team and went on to get his Ph.D. ’84 in Exercise Science from the University of Iowa. There, he served as a statistician for 15 years. Besides being an author of over 50 publications, he has been active in the American College of Sports Medicine and multiple sports associations.
According to Executive Director of Development for the IU Libraries, Pete Rhoda, "Libraries were a staple of his (Dr. Oppliger's) teaching and research career. He sees a high-performing library as essential to any university." Dr. Oppliger created this scholarship as an award specifically for an outstanding library science graduate student working in Scholars' Commons in the Wells Library.