When Rafal Kasprowski took on the newly created role of electronic resources librarian in 2007, he set out to improve and expand Fondren Library’s extensive electronic resources, including electronic journals, databases and the library’s OneSearch function.
Kasprowski’s efforts were recognized with the Beth Shapiro Library Staff Innovation Award, which he accepted at an April 10 ceremony in the library’s Kyle Morrow Room.
The annual Shapiro Award is presented to a member of the Fondren Library staff who has developed an innovative program to provide library services at Rice University or has shown exemplary service to the university community.
Kasprowski’s success over the past six years is evident in a letter from John Hunter, science and engineering librarian, who nominated Kasprowski for the award. “Since Rafal’s arrival at Fondren Library, I have witnessed a smooth workflow with electronic licensing, due to an improved coordination of activities,” Hunter wrote. “I continue to be impressed by his depth of knowledge from both the technical and bibliographic aspects of the resources we currently receive in digital formats.”
Other colleagues also nominated Kasprowski for the award. “I particularly appreciate Rafal’s assistance with ordering electronic journals and databases,” another library staff member wrote. “In one instance, when I was trying to order a title from an international publisher without success, Rafal made calls at 4 a.m. to accommodate the different time zone. After several tries he was able to reach the publisher and facilitate the order, making my faculty member very happy.”
Janice Lindquist, head of acquisitions and Kasprowski’s supervisor, commended his ingenuity and dedication at the award ceremony. She seconded the sentiment of a nominator who wrote, “Rafal’s skills are unique in the library, and colleagues often remark on his intelligence and on the level of his understanding of complex technical issues. While I may not fully understand the technical side of what Rafal does, I do know that he has our user community in mind and that he does his very best to make sure that we are serving them.”
Lindquist noted that Kasprowski’s engagement extends beyond the library’s electronic resources. He is one of the American Library Association’s instructors for the association’s Web course on Fundamentals of Electronic Resources Acquisitions, regularly publishes articles in professional journals and has organizational roles with a Houston area librarians group and the Polish American Librarians Association.
Kasprowski takes pride in the impact his work has for students, faculty and staff. “I’m a behind-the-scenes person, oftentimes right where library technology and public services meet,” Kasprowski said. “I set up OpenURL linking, which leads users from the databases they search to the full text when it’s not directly available in the databases. Another major project has been the OneSearch platform … making as many of Rice’s online and print resources available to users as possible in a single search.”
He enjoys the library’s collegial, collaborative environment and the opportunities his work provides. “At Rice, I’ve been able to do things that are outside of a very specific job outline,” he said. “We’ve worked on several intensive task forces together, and it’s been a great formula to accomplish important projects for the Rice community.”
Kasprowski is the 12th recipient of the Shapiro Award since it was first given in 2002. 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.