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Four full-time employees and one student employee received awards during annual employee recognition event “You Are UAB Libraries” March 14 in the Hill Student Center.

Peggy Balch, curator of the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library; Lakonja Billups, user access associate in Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences; Kelly Schiff, digital imaging manager for Digitization and Digital Preservation; and Ja’kayla Stafford, Interlibrary Loan student assistant, received the UAB Libraries Shared Values Award. The awards highlight Libraries employees who exemplify UAB’s four shared values: Care, Act with Integrity, Respect All, and Excel. Luke Menzies, head of Digitization and Digital Preservation, received the UAB Libraries Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award.

Peggy Balch

Peggy Balch

Curator, Reynolds-Finely Historical Library

Nominators write that Balch “consistently exceeds her regular work duties, demonstrating a remarkable dedication and cheerful attitude, particularly when faced with challenging circumstances.”

One of those challenging circumstances arose when Lister Hill Library flooded in 2023, requiring Balch to work long hours to salvage hundreds of severely damaged books. Nominators note that she took charge without hesitation, “coordinating rescue efforts and utilizing her expertise in material assessment and preservation to address the emergency situation quickly and effectively.”

Nominators also wrote that Balch frequently is called on by colleagues across UAB Libraries and other units to help with preservation issues, and that she is well-respected as a rare books curator both at UAB and among scholars at other institutions.

“No matter the circumstances, Peggy exhibits the spirit of partnership and collegiality and serves as a wonderful role model for all of us,” nominators concluded.

Lakonja Billups

Lakonja Billups

User Access Associate, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences

Billups is known to go “above and beyond in her work to ensure the highest quality service not just to the students in the Lister Hill Library, but to her colleagues as well,” according to nominators, and consistently exemplifies respectful, collaborative and accountable traits — both peers and student workers seek her out for guidance and support.

Following the retirement of longtime Lister Hill Library supervisor Errica Evans in November 2023, Billups has served as “an invaluable source of help and positivity to her colleagues, stepping up to “support the complicated processes of scheduling the desk, training new student workers, and troubleshooting technology issues,” nominators note.

With Billups’ assistance, the Lister Hill HUB Desk has undergone significant changes, including updating the framework for loan processing and adjustments to scheduling procedures.

“She will put aside anything to make sure you are acquainted with the facilities and all the services we provide and is an example of upstanding customer service with years of experience,” a nominator wrote.

Kelly Schiff

Kelly Schiff

Digital Imaging Manager, Digitization and Digital Preservation

Known for her willingness to support a colleague in need even on short notice, nominators write that Schiff “approaches every task with a smile on her face and is the first one to get her hands dirty if something goes wrong” — such as the infamous 2023 flood in Lister Hill.

She consistently works across departments in UAB Libraries, collaborating with dozens of Libraries colleagues per year, working on projects ranging from fulfilling on-demand digitization requests by Historical Collections, printing large-format posters for numerous entities from Reference to Emerging Technologies, designing UAB Libraries swag for events, acting as event and job talk videographer, and more, nominators say.

Schiff also lends her expertise to Historical Collections by helping install exhibits, supporting classes taught in the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library, and providing expertise on digitization and photography projects.

“UAB Libraries would not be the same without Kelly's contributions and she deserves to be recognized by her colleagues for positive contributions,” a nominator wrote.

Ja’kayla Stafford

Ja’kayla Stafford

Interlibrary Loan Student Assistant

Stafford’s dedication to stewardship and accountability shined through during an effort to identify groups of titles from UAB Libraries’ collections to be moved to the 801 Building for remote storage, nominators write — her work even made it possible for the project to conclude ahead of schedule.

In her daily work, Stafford solves “the many mysteries of ILL” — requests are often not straightforward, and “sometimes there's a need to dig a little to find what is needed to properly fill the request,” a nominator wrote. “Ja’kayla does this with integrity and excellence with little to no assistance.”

Luke Menzies

Luke Menzies

Head of Digitization and Digital Preservation

When it comes to championing diversity, equity and inclusion, “Luke not only talks the talk, he walks the walk as well,” nominators wrote of Menzies — that he is passionate about the subject is evident upon meeting him, and he strives to share that passion with others.

Beginning with the recruitment process for new employees and carrying into his interactions with colleagues, Menzies is an advocate for UAB Libraries’ core values, nominators continue.

“If you spend any time with any member of Luke’s team, it’s plain to see they are encouraged to find ways to include DEI in their work,” a nominator wrote. “It’s great to have colleagues like Luke that actively share in the work of DEI in any way that he can.”

Mervyn H. Sterne Library

917 13th St S
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-6364

Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences

1700 University Blvd
Birmingham, AL

(205) 975-4821

Reynolds-Finley Historical Library

1700 University Blvd - 3rd Floor
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-4475

Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences

1700 University Blvd - 3rd Floor
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-4475

Lister Hill Library at University Hospital

615 18th Street S - P235 West Pavilion
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-2275

801 Building

801 5th Ave South
Room 1111
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-5432

J. Ellis Sparks Medical Library

301 Governors Drive SE - 3rd Floor
Huntsville, AL 35801

(256) 551-4405

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