Ask A Librarian

State Association Honors Librarian for Outstanding Service

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 15th, 2009

The West Virginia Library Association presented Penny Pugh, Head of Reference at the Downtown Campus Library, with the Dora Ruth Parks Award for long and outstanding service to libraries and librarianship in West Virginia.

Penny Pugh
Penny Pugh

Presenting the honor during the organization’s fall conference, the Awards Committee praised Pugh for her accomplishments as a reference librarian and as a leader in WVLA.

“Her strong work ethic, her depth of knowledge, outstanding leadership and willingness to find solutions through collaborative work are well-known attributes,” the nomination letter reads. “Penny has made remarkable contributions to libraries through her work.”

Pugh came to the WVU Libraries Reference Department as a staff librarian in 1986 and worked her way up to head of reference. She credits her career choice to a love of reading that ignited when a bookmobile stopped at her elementary school. The decision solidified while she was an undergraduate at WVU.

“I became enamored with the idea of libraries as a place where knowledge is stored so every new generation doesn’t have to start fresh,” Pugh said. “We can build on and advance our civilization. We don’t have to invent penicillin again.”

Pugh has strived to help keep the WVU Libraries as a valuable resource in the constantly changing technological world. When she started her career, index cards and the thick green volumes of the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature were staples for any good researcher. Today, users can read electronic journals from home and chat online with librarians.

Keeping on the forefront, Pugh provided leadership to develop the WVU Libraries’ first Web site and helped to create the Reference Online page, a listing of electronic resources. She has served as chair of the electronic resources committee for the past 15 years. She remains a consistent innovator, adding resources such as an instant message service, Ask-a-Librarian, and an application that allows users to text themselves book call numbers.

Over the years, Pugh has also gained a reputation as an outstanding teacher. She has taught numerous sections of a library course, ULIB 101: Introduction to Library Research; has given lectures for credit courses in several disciplines; and has offered many faculty workshops.

Most recently, she worked with the WVU Writing Center and Academic Resource Centers to bring free tutoring sessions to the Downtown Campus Library five evenings every week.

During her term as WVLA president from 2004-2005, Pugh worked to increase membership and produce outstanding fall and spring conferences. She also served as the spokesperson for the organization when dealing with the media and elected officials in Charleston. She previously served as chair of WVLA’s Academic Division and as a member of the Executive Board.

“I’m passionate about libraries, and I’m proud to advocate for them through my work in the association. Libraries are institutions that embody the best of our society, and librarians from all types of libraries share common values – literacy, education, and learning,” Pugh said. “I would hate to live in a society where there were no libraries.”

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