Sara Seely once worked at the Central European University Library in Budapest, Hungary where she helped to oversee the Open Society Archives. But her most memorable work of her career may have come from her continuing experience as a PCC librarian for the Rock Creek Campus Library.
A dedication to the community and student learning has earned Seely the 2014 Bill Christopher Building Community Award. Her name will be added to a plaque on display in Building 7 along with past winners. She will be awarded $300 to be used toward professional development, work materials and supplies, professional travel, or related applications.
The annual honor is designed to help celebrate an outstanding Rock Creek employee who seeks to improve the PCC community by building connections with employees and students. The Bill Christopher Building Community Award was created in honor of the past executive dean’s contribution to the campus community at Rock Creek when he led the campus (before the role was converted to president). Recipients are nominated by their colleagues, and the winner is announced during the campus’ service awards every May. Past winners include Terry Lookabill, Debbie Tyner, Paul Halloran, Aaron Dunn, Bob Frasco, Jim Johnstone, Bob Cook, Brenda Ivelisse, Christine Paull, Pam Kessinger, Linda Timmins and Charlene Hansen.
This is Seely’s third year at PCC after working in similar positions at Boise State University and the University of Washington. Seely, who attended UC Berkeley and Lane Community College, completed her bachelor’s degree at Evergreen State College and master’s degree in Librarian and Information Science from the University of Washington.
“I was completely surprised and humbled because this is the third college I’ve worked at, and I’ve found that building relationships here comes so easily college wide,” Seely said. “I feel like I could pick up the phone, call anyone and get a response. With the focus on students, teaching, and student achievement and success, I think that breaks down a lot of barriers.”
At Rock Creek’s Library, Seely spends one-on-one time with students to assist with their research through the help desk or online chats via the PCC Library website. She also teaches, leads workshops and collaborates with other faculty to support assignments. Seely serves as a liaison for the sociology and microelectronics technology programs where she buys materials and textbooks. In addition, she assesses how students use sources and identify gaps. For example, in a recent Writing 121 class, students were given sources and asked to write a paper on why they selected the one they did.
Everything she does is geared toward enhancing the student’s educational experience.
“If you show up and if you engage, work gets done, and things happen and I feel people here really do that,” Seely said. “I’ve learned a lot about the community and relationships since I’ve arrived at Rock Creek. I’ve learned so much the last three years watching other people work.”
On top of all this hard work, Seely has served on planning committees for the New Faculty Institute, International Education Week and PCC Reads, to name a few. The awardee even finds time to represent PCC on a bigger scale as well, working with a consortium of 37 Northwest college and university libraries to buy books collectively. However, her fondest activity to date has been helping to open the new PCC Library at the Southeast Center where she led the collection development effort. Seely said it was a rare chance for her to assist in the building of a library from scratch.
“When the doors open, you have to think about what books you put on the shelves and how you are going to do that,” Seely said. “That is a once-in-a-career opportunity. I don’t know when I would ever be able to open a library again. It has been so much fun and it’s such a privilege.”
Colleagues Talk About Sara Seely:
- “She is always willing to share her considerable expertise in instructional design and technology, and to learn from others.”
- “Sara invites not only input, but also participation, with coworkers at all levels, on all kinds of projects.”
- “Sara treats all students with respect – and shows the same excitement for questions large, small, and even those heard for the tenth time that day.”
- “She often goes to the various student centers just to talk with students, to see what they are interested in, concerned about, or planning next.”
- “She brings connection, and happiness, to all that she encounters.”
- “Sara works collaboratively with her library and non-library colleagues and has worked tirelessly to help raise awareness of library services at the campus.”
- “She is a tireless mentor and student advocate.”
- “She inspires all who come in contact with her and it is not uncommon to say that when Sara is in the room she raises the bar.”