Zhao receives Fondren’s 2017 Shapiro Award

Members of the Rice community gathered in Fondren Library’s historic Kyle Morrow Room July 10 for a reception honoring an exceptional library employee. Jane Zhao, director of the Digital Media Commons (DMC), was recognized with the 2017 Shapiro Award.

Jane Zhao

Jane Zhao addresses attendees of the Shapiro Award ceremony. Photos by Tommy LaVergne

The commons supports the creation and use of multimedia in education, scholarship and artistic expression at Rice. Located in Suite B42 in the library, the commons space boasts a state-of-the-art video and photography studio with a green screen and professional lighting, a soundproofed audio-recording studio and a multipurpose room. The DMC works to provide extensive support for creating multimedia, including training, equipment checkout and access to video-editing software. The commons was previously located in Herring Hall. Zhao oversaw its move to Fondren in spring 2015.

The Shapiro Award is presented annually 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. Zhao, who came to Rice in 2005, is the 16th recipient of the award since it was first given in 2002.

Zhao’s supervisor, Lisa Spiro, executive director of digital scholarship services at Fondren, noted Zhao’s dedication and professional ethos. “Jane demonstrates a strong commitment to assisting faculty, students and staff with pretty much any multimedia project, deep knowledge of multimedia, the ability to envision and implement new services and a positive, can-do attitude,” Spiro said. “In the past couple of years, Jane has the deepened the DMC’s collaborations, set up and promoted new multimedia studios, developed new training programs and offered outstanding service throughout. I think that Jane is wonderful, and based on the eight nominations she received for this award, it’s clear that many share that view. People from across the university value Jane’s expertise and enthusiasm for helping them realize their digital media projects. As one faculty nominator commented, ‘Jane is my go-to person for many digital needs.’”

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’m … very, very pleased to see so many people here today, and I know Beth would be pleased as well,” Barnes said. Barnes and Shapiro’s daughter, Gabrielle Barnes, also attended the ceremony.

From left, Gabrielle Barnes, Zhao, Sara Lowman and Russell Barnes.

“This Shapiro Award event has become one of the highlights for the staff; (it) certainly has for me,” said Vice Provost and University Librarian Sara Lowman. “Professional development was very important to Beth Shapiro. She mentored many librarians during her time at Rice, including me. I know Beth would be very pleased to see the list of the past Shapiro Award winners and hear about how they have moved the library’s programs forward through their service and innovation. Beth would have been particularly proud of Jane’s impact on the library, the impact she’s had on moving us ahead with technology and making the Digital Media Commons a valuable resource for our students, faculty and community.”

Zhao expressed gratitude and appreciation to her supervisors and colleagues and especially toward the DMC team. “This award, this honor, should be shared with all of you,” Zhao said. “There’s a Chinese proverb: A single tree does not a make a forest. A single string cannot make music. It is all of you who make all the good things happen at the DMC and make the DMC shine.”

In addition to the studios, the commons provides free, short-term checkout of equipment, such as digital camcorders, HDV video cameras, digital cameras and lenses, audio equipment, tripods and a lighting kit. It also offers 16 workstations as well as hardware, software and personalized assistance to support a wide range of digital media projects, including audio and video editing, graphics and web page creation and high-end scanning options for documents and images.

For more information about the DMC’s services and checkout policies, go to http://library.rice.edu/dmc.

About Jeff Falk

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