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If you have ever received help from Laura Baines at the Research Assistance Desk, you’ll know why her co-workers nominated her for the South Carolina Library Association’s (SCLA) 2016 Outstanding Library Paraprofessional Award. Laura listens to your question carefully, and works with you to find appropriate, scholarly, and on-target answers. But she does it with humor and humility, and lets you know she cares about your research  (and your grades!). She really understands the Library’s mission to match its resources to its users needs. Library users could be students, faculty, staff or community, and Laura always has a smile and a cheerful demeanor.

But you may not know that behind the scenes, Laura is constantly at work on new displays to catch the interest of someone walking by (did you see “The Birds & Bees” in the Science Library? or “Protest Songs: Voices of Resistance and Possibility” in the Music Library? or how about the Peace Corps display she made when the Peace Corps came to campus to interview students?) Sometimes she’s thinking of new activities to reduce student stress or promote library services. “Blind Date with a Book,” “Scholar of the Month Room,” stress ball making and popping bubble wrap, are all her ideas. In addition, she works with and trains our student assistants, writes witty and engaging posts for our blog, and just generally supports the Outreach Division of the Library. She is the liaison from the Library to all campus staff, encouraging them to use the great library resources and services available to them.

Since SCLA’s award is given to “recognize the contribution and excellence of a library support staff who engages in library operations at all levels, demonstrates excellence in performance in his or her field of expertise, promotes staff development and fosters communication amongst library employees,” we knew it couldn’t go to a more fitting person. Please join us in congratulating her!