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UMSI student and alumni shine at 2023 Michigan Library Awards

"Michigan Library Association 2023 Michigan Library Awards, UMSI honorees, photo of Gigi Broyles, Rising Star Award, photo of Erin Matas, State Librarian's Citation of Excellence, photo of Paul McCann, Lifetime Achievement Award, UMSI logo"

Monday, 10/30/2023

A University of Michigan School of Information student joined multiple alumni on a glimmering stage at the 2023 Michigan Library Awards Gala on Oct. 18. Announced annually, the awards are considered the state’s highest honors within the library community. 

The Rising Star Award went to Georgina (Gigi) Broyles, a master’s student in library and information science at UMSI. The award recognizes a librarian who shows leadership early in their career. While new to the profession, winners of this award are forward-thinking, expand the role of librarian and move libraries into the future. 

Gigi Broyles stands in front of a glimmering curtain holding an award that says "Rising Star"

"Receiving this early career award from the greater Michigan library community is affirmation that I am on the right path,” Broyles said. “Whether it be by connecting people with vital information resources or by simply offering a welcoming smile and a good book, public libraries make a difference in the lives of their patrons every day.” 

As an access service librarian at MacDonald Public Library, Broyles revitalized teen services, increasing attendance at teen programs by more than 150%. As a technical services clerk at Center Line Public Library, she created a data map of the entire collection and oversaw the transfer of digital records from one integrated library system into another.

“I see UMSI's commitment to introducing library students to emerging technology as vital to the future of the profession,” she said. Broyles hopes to become a library director.

A photo of Paul McCann

Paul McCann, a 1992 graduate of UMSI and longtime director of the Dexter District Library, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished service to the library profession. The award recognizes librarians who have demonstrated leadership and mentorship, provided innovative service to their community and served as a catalyst in special areas including intellectual freedom and diversity, equity and inclusion.

“This is a humbling honor and I was truly surprised to receive the award, but a career like the one I have had does not happen in a vacuum,” McCann said, highlighting the vital role played by colleagues, volunteers and the library board. 

His three-decade career at Dexter District Library began in 1994 with a three-line newspaper clipping, mailed to him by a family friend. The clipping advertised an opening for the first library director. McCann’s tenure saw two expansions of Dexter District Library, four-fold growth in the library’s collection and an increase of over 1,400% in library usage. 

McCann said UMSI broadened his vision of what public libraries could be. “I would not be where I am today without the top-notch guidance from the professors I studied under,” he said. “The exposure and guidance I received through the SI program laid a strong foundation that has allowed me to implement modern public library services and practices and develop the Dexter District Library from a simple reading room into one of the best libraries of our size in the state of Michigan.” 

A photo of Erin Matas

A State Librarian’s Citation of Excellence was awarded to the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library at Michigan Technological University. Its director, Erin Matas, completed her master’s degree in archives and record management at UMSI in 2006. In their graduating class, Matas was the recipient of the Edmon Low Award. Awardees embody dedication to service, empathy for others, confidence building, industry, interpersonal acuity, responsibility and humor.

Through my coursework and hands-on experience at UMSI, I gained the perspective that collaboration and connection are at the center of the information professions,” Matas said. “This has had a profound impact on my career, leading me to actively seek out opportunities that are lively, interdisciplinary and service-focused.”

Matas is joined on the staff of the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library by two UMSI alumni: scholarly communications librarian Annelise Doll (MSI ’11) and archivist Emily Schwiebert (MSI ’16). Citations of Excellence highlight the importance of Michigan libraries’ services and are supported by the Library of Michigan Foundation.

"I am honored and energized that our library was chosen for this award,” Matas said. “This recognition is not only a testament to the dedication of our team but also a celebration of the local and Michigan Technological University communities that we are proud to serve. Receiving this award reaffirms our core values centered around service, education and the belief that libraries are transformative in their communities."

View the full list of 2023 Michigan Library Award honorees here

Abigail McFee, marketing and communications writer