Alicia McLaughlin - 2017 Distinguished Service Award

Alicia McLaughlin is Information Desk Coordinator, a role which she has transformed into the heart
and soul of the John B. McNair Learning Commons at the Harriet Irving Library. She has been nominated jointly by all three people who have led the Reference Department while she has been a
member of staff.
Alicia came to the Harriet Irving Library in 2007, just prior to the opening of the John B. McNair
Learning Commons. The library, and indeed the university, were fortunate to find in Alicia the ideal
person to make our “service-oriented learning environment” a reality. The Commons now  approaches its 10th anniversary as an overwhelming success; and Alicia’s extraordinary contribution to this transformational change in library services cannot be overstated. Alicia demonstrates her commitment to helping library users every day, and instills in other staff the importance of taking the time with students who need our help.
Alicia embodies the heart of the Learning Commons. As a library service model, the Commons is
intended to be a welcoming, multi-purpose space where students can work with library resources and technology while having access to research, IT (in the busiest computer lab on the Fredericton campus), accessibility services and writing expertise when needed. The infrastructure and level of coordination required to maintain these services are significant, demanding the complex  orchestration of dozens of people and the units they represent. These collegial relationships have now been successful for ten years, speaking volumes about Alicia’s attention and skill in navigating this tricky sharing of the Commons environment. Alicia has succeeded in managing both the  quotidian and over-arching work of the Learning Commons with enthusiasm, creativity, kindness and tremendous competence.
She has also taken on significant instructional activities for the past few years, leading the Arts1000 library sessions, providing orientation to international students, and offering outreach to local high
school students. In all, she strives to make connections with incoming students and to assure them that the Library welcomes them.
Alicia service includes participation on the UNB UCard Committee, the Library’s Web Development
Committee, Public Services Committee, First Year Experience Committee, several conference  planning committees, and the Learning Commons Working Group. She is among the first to volunteer for SOAR, and at orientation booths across campus early each term. She remembers students’ faces, and greets them later when they find her in the Library.
One particular example from the Learning Commons reveals Alicia’s commitment to creating an
environment in which all students feel welcome and valued. Beside the Research Help Desk, there is a free-standing easel with a large dry-erase board mounted. Alicia regularly prompts students and others to respond to what’s written on the board, in their first language. For example, Alicia will write “How do you say: The snow has arrived”? Within a few days, the board will be full of responses in a
multitude of languages.
Alicia has redefined the Information Desk Coordinator’s role, and continues to strengthen the Libraries by both her deeds and example. We regard her as an excellent candidate for this honour.

Lesley Balcom
Dean of Libraries