Lowman receives prestigious Shapiro Award

Lowman receives prestigious Shapiro Award

Special to the Rice News

Fondren Library Director Sara Lowman has given many awards to her staff, but this time she is the one being recognized.

Lowman, who is also interim university librarian, is the sixth recipient of the Shapiro Award. This annual award recognizes Fondren Library staff members who have developed an innovative library service at Rice or who have shown exemplary service to the university.


In their nominations, library staff and people outside the university commented on Lowman’s steady leadership, efforts to reach out to the community, and commitment to innovation.

”Sara’s work on the recent library renovation, the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic project, the library customer service survey and her support of the library staff is truly outstanding, ”said David Bynog, assistant acquisitions librarian. ”Her dedication in providing innovative initiatives and exceptional customer service is what the Shapiro Award is all about.”

Bringing books to the visually impaired

One of Lowman’s recent projects for the community helps bring what is inside books to those who are blind, dyslexic or have some other reading disability.

The Graduate Student Association had partnered with Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), finding volunteers to read sections of textbooks and buying recording and editing equipment that allows recordings to be saved in a national database. However, the GSA couldn’t find a place to store, use and manage access to the expensive equipment.

”Sara Lowman was jazzed immediately about this partnership and was critical to our implementing RFB&D equipment on campus,” said Jordan Miller, president of the Graduate Student Association for ’06-’07.

Lowman provided a room in Fondren Library for storing and using the recording equipment, and she helped organize and train the circulation staff to monitor access to the room. She also helped promote the program by providing staff to design posters and encouraging library staff to volunteer.

”This recording studio will allow the Texas unit of RFB&D to complete its goal of 6,000 recorded hours and help serve students who need extra help with their education because of a visual impairment or other print disability,” said Cheri Nightingale, studio producer of RFB&D Austin.

Lowman holds a B.A. in biology from Carlton College and an M.A. in library and information science from University of Iowa. She joined Rice shortly after receiving her master’s degree in 1985.

She has worked in reference, online search services and reader services, and she became director of Fondren Library in 2000. She has served on numerous library committees, university committees and professional organizations.

Lowman is equally active outside of work, devoting time to the Annunciation Orthodox School, the MS-150, following the Astros and Rice Owls, and attending her daughter’s sports events.

The award, which includes a monetary stipend and a plaque, is funded by the estate of Beth Shapiro, who served as university librarian from 1991 until her death in 1995.

Lowman will receive the Shapiro Award at 2 p.m. May 9 in Lovett Lounge on the third floor of Fondren Library. Members of the Rice community are welcome to attend the ceremony and reception.

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