ORONO — The 12-member circulation staff of Fogler Library at the University of Maine are the recipients of the 2022 Black Bear Award for Extraordinary Impact.

UMaine established the Black Bear Award for Extraordinary Impact in 2021 to recognize the performance excellence of an individual or group. Such positive impact is “deep, significant and lasting,” and is reflected campuswide and beyond in the quality of the student and employee experience.

The Fogler team, led by circulation manager Jerry Lund, honored for their service: Amanda Black, Michael Dunn, Bradly Finch, Kathryn Gottlieb, Peter Lawrence, Owen Robertson, Harley Rogers, Jeff Roggenbuck, Greta Schroeder, Jonathan Smith, and Troy Turner.

“The circulation staff of Maine’s largest library, based at the state’s R1 research university, has long been second to none in its effectiveness and commitment to keeping learning going,” says UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, their leadership was essential in helping people connect to resources and, for many patrons, keeping spirits high and hope alive. The challenges of the pandemic did not deter them from their mission, and their efforts made a difference for so many.”

Fogler Library serves as the “third place” for the community — a space beyond home or work where people can learn, study and collaborate. In most years, more than 500,000 people come through the library. The building stays open seven days a week — more than 101 hours weekly — during the academic year. When classes are canceled due to inclement weather, the library remains open so students have a place to study. As finals approach, the library extends its closing time to 2:30 a.m. to accommodate work on final papers and projects. The Circulation Department makes all of this possible. 

When the pandemic caused Fogler Library to close to the public, the circulation staff quickly found new ways to serve the community. Team members continued working in the library, arranging extended loans for books, instituting a mail-to-home procedure to get materials to users, and lending laptops so that students and others had the technology needed to complete their classes or work. In addition to regular patron service, they answered many pandemic-related inquiries. 

The circulation staff provided a continuity of service that supported whoever needed assistance. In short, they helped ensure that the university’s people had access to their library — even if they couldn’t come to campus. 

As one patron noted, “Books and libraries are the lifeblood of Institutions of higher education. … the circulation staff of Fogler deserves to be recognized for service above and beyond the call of duty.” 

The inaugural recipient of the Black Bear Award for Extraordinary Impact was the UMaine Emergency Operations Center, which beginning in February 2020 provided and coordinated COVID-19 response for the UMaine and UMaine Machias communities.