Kirkland Is Employee of the Month for January

Posted: January 3, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

Rachel Kirkland, Media Reserves Coordinator for the Johnson Center Library’s (JCL) Reference Department, is Employee of the Month for January. As one of three reference assistants there, she also provides user instruction and is the student supervisor for the Reference Department.

She is dedicated to providing all patrons excellent customer service, says Cynthia Bentley, JCL coordinator of circulation and reserves. “She supports the needs of faculty, staff, and students on and off the desks, and often goes out of her way to meet the many patron requests for reserves, library materials, and equipment and to resolve circulation concerns. She has taken the initiative to continue to learn by participating in several training sessions offered by the libraries, the Information Technology Unit, and Human Resources. Rachel willingly fills in for others when needed and possesses an extraordinary attitude toward helping others.”

Before taking her current position last July, Kirkland was the media services coordinator and reserves team leader/daytime circulation supervisor in the JCL. When she was course reserves team leader, Kirkland coordinated the work and ensured high quality service from her group, says Ruth Kifer, associate university librarian of distributed libraries.

“Over the past year, there has been a significant decrease in the volume of print reserve requests and an accompanying increase in the number of electronic reserve requests. This has required a shift in the workflow for the group, and Rachel has managed the change extremely well and helped the others in the group adjust to the changes in their daily work,” says Kifer. The JCL staffers often receive e-mail messages thanking them for excellent service, she says, “and as of late, Rachel is taking the lead with the number of these complimentary letters.”

Nancy Klein, circulation supervisor of the Arlington Campus Library, says, “Rachel’s manner is always pleasant and professional despite the pressure of deadlines and increase in workload at certain times during the academic year. She also did a great job of coordinating the revision and updating of the course reserve manual.”

Kirkland started work at Mason in January 2002, shortly after her first child was born. Before coming to Mason, Kirkland worked at the Urban Institute and the Library of Congress. “With motherhood, the ‘cool job downtown’ with the daily commute didn’t hold the same appeal. I wanted convenience and flexibility, and Mason has definitely provided those things. I had gone here for my undergraduate degree, so I was pretty confident that I would like the environment. I’m thrilled that a job I leapt at to get out of downtown has turned into so much more for me—a true learning experience, a career path, and a chance to excel in and contribute to a place that I love.

“I have honestly enjoyed the people I have met here,” she continues. “In the libraries in general, but particularly in the JCL, I have amazing colleagues that push me both academically and professionally. I have a ‘crew’ of girlfriends that not only do I get to see every day at work, but outside of work as well. Every other place I have worked has been a job. Here at Mason, I am part of a larger, wonderfully diverse community. It continues to be an amazing experience.”

Kirkland is enrolled in a distance education program in information science at the University of Tennessee, pursuing her MSIS. “The experience I am getting in reference is really key in moving from being considered a paraprofessional in this field to becoming a professional.”

Her goals are to finish her degree, “to be an active and loving mother to my boys, to grow in my chosen profession of librarian, and enjoy my family and friends to the fullest.”

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