McConnell Library Holds Annual Winesett Awards for Library Research
As the hub of archived knowledge and resources at Radford University, McConnell Library couldn’t have been a more perfect place to host last Friday’s 2011 Winesett Awards for Library Research.
Funded by the Hazel Grove Winesett Endowment and administered by the Radford University Foundation, the award ceremony is held at the end of the spring semester to recognize the year’s most creative and original library research completed by undergraduate students.
“We are very impressed by the quality of our students’ work,” said Candice Benjes-Small, chair of the Winesett Awards for Library Research Committee, noting some of the wide-ranging submitted research paper topics, from investigative forensic analysis, to fighting childhood obesity, or the gender roles of both Native American and colonial women in 17th Century America.
The top prize of the event included four $750 awards granted to students whose papers or projects best illustrate the exemplary use of McConnell Library’s tools, resources and development of information-gathering tools.
The first-place $750 student award winners from the upper division category (seniors and juniors) were: Michelle Whitman, for “The Femoral Bicondylar Angle As A Tool For Sex Determination In Unidentified Forensic Human Remains,” sponsored by Professor Donna Boyd; and Kiersten Newtoff, for “Pygoscelis Papau- Gentoo Penguin,” sponsored by Professor Karen Francl.
The two student winners from the lower division (freshmen and sophomores) were: Andrea Rogers, for “The Appalachian Annihilation: A Dispute Against Mountaintop Removal,” sponsored by Professor Melanie Fox; and Leanna Rippey, for “Transgenics: The Scientific Mystery of Today’s Species,” sponsored by Professor Guy Axtell.
In addition, the five student finalists each receiving $100 awards were: Adam Bennett, Chelsea Crawford, S. Catherine Furry, Caitlin Hennessy and Brianna Miller.
This year’s participation was record-breaking, with a total of 53 undergraduate students submitting essays, nearly doubling last year’s total of 27 submissions.
“The number of registrants and applicants for these awards was greater than ever,” said Steve Helm, interim university librarian. “I can’t even imagine what the response is going to be like next year, or the year after.”
Applauding the award winners and everyone who submitted an entry for the contest, keynote speaker Dennis Grady, dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, believes the true measure of a university is the quality of its library.
“When you’re looking at a university, one of the first things you look at is the number of holdings within the university library, how many periodicals they carry, and what types of services are provided,” said Grady. “It’s just so intrinsic to the quality of the university to have a wonderful library, and we are fortunate here at Radford University to have such a wonderful library.”
The first known library classification system can be traced back nearly 4,000 years ago to 1,800 B.C., where according to Grady, instead of printed paper-bound books, a series of archived tablets was used instead.
“It’s interesting to then discover that the first university didn’t really begin until 1,100 (A.D.), so it was almost 3,000 years since the first library that we finally had the first modern university,” Grady explained. “What that suggests is you can have a library without a university, but you really can’t have a university without a library.”
The annual library research contest was named in honor of 1938 alumna Hazel Winesett, a lifelong educator from Pulaski who was remembered as a woman with a warm and modest heart who loved to travel. Upon her death in 2002, Winesett surprised the McConnell Library with an $820,000 endowment.
“She’s the woman who made this all possible,” said Helm. “It’s the largest endowment that we ever received. The interest on this endowment has allowed us to do many, many things, including these awards.”
In addition to the annual library research award contest, The Hazel Grove Winesett Endowment has also been used to help fund numerous initiatives at the library, such as expanding resources, upgrading furnishings, equipment, and forming the McConnell Library Archives and Special Collections’ annual Winesett Book Collecting Contest.
“It’s always a delight to see the kinds of work that comes out of these bright, young minds,” said Grady.
“We are building upon a tradition of knowledge that continues and continues and continues,” he told the students. “It’s fascinating to think that you’ve begun this journey that will hopefully continue for the rest of your life, and maybe somebody someday will be working further on your research.”
Copies of the prize winning papers will be permanently housed in the McConnell Library University Archives and can be digitally accessed online from the Winesett Awards for Library Research Collection.