Fondren’s 2015 Shapiro Award recognizes Prendeville’s 3 decades of service to Rice

Fondren Library’s historic Kyle Morrow Room was filled to the last row May 27 for a reception honoring an exceptional library employee. Jet Prendeville, who has served as the art and architecture librarian since 1979, was recognized with the 2015 Shapiro Award.

Russell Barnes, husband of the late Beth Shapiro, congratulated Fondren Library's Jet Prendeville on receiving the 2015 Shapiro Award. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

Prendeville was nominated for the award by Erin McAfee, a now-retired senior access services associate at Fondren. In her nomination letter, McAfee lauded Prendeville’s skill in building one of the finest art history collections in Houston, in areas ranging from Western European and American art and architecture to art and archaeology of the Greco-Roman world and Chinese and Japanese art and architecture. “… (Prendeville’s) vast knowledge of art and art history have made Fondren Library a great place to serve the art community,” McAfee wrote.

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 or has shown exemplary service to the university community. Prendeville is the 14th recipient of the 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. Russell Barnes, Shapiro’s husband and Rice’s director of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity programs, spoke at the award ceremony and noted Shapiro’s interest in recognizing outstanding employee service.

“I think Beth would’ve been very pleased that Jet is the recipient of the award this year,” said Vice Provost and University Librarian Sara Lowman. “She was very proud of the library staff supporting the mission of teaching and research on campus, and Jet epitomizes this strong service goal.”

Lowman recounted having recently served on a jury judging a group of School of Architecture students’ fifth-year studio projects. In designing a structure that would be built on the side of the One World Trade Center and would contain a library, the students had highlighted a special consideration Lowman found noteworthy. “The group … talked about how important it was to have the staff in the center of the library because they’re the most important part,” Lowman said. “The reason for that … was because they had worked with Jet. They said that that was more important than all the books and the content that they found. That really resonated with me.”

Prendeville’s supervisor, Sandi Edwards, head of reference in Fondren’s Research Services division, noted her dedication and professional ethos. “As a supervisor of many student assistants in (Fondren’s) Brown Fine Arts Library, Jet set very high standards for her workers,” Edwards said. “But she and the staff provided the necessary training and encouragement that enabled them to meet these and provide excellent service. She has been a respected mentor to a number of students, some of whom were inspired by her example to enter the profession.”

Prendeville expressed appreciation to her supervisors and colleagues at the ceremony. “One of the best things about the Shapiro Award is the opportunity to publicly say, ‘Thank you,’ and express how much I appreciate all of you and that Fondren has been a great place to work,” Prendeville said. “The reception is really not for me; rather, it’s a celebration for all of us.”

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.