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Gulati Wins Distinguished Service Award
Andy Gulati, recipient of the 2010 Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award
Andy Gulati was puzzled, surprised and curious. And, he admits, maybe a bit worried.
Several weeks ago, the systems librarian at Franklin & Marshall College checked his voice mail and discovered a message from the office of President John Fry. He was asked to call back as soon as he could.
"The message said the president would like to see me," Gulati says in his office in Shadek-Fackenthal Library. "That doesn't happen every day. Usually, the president doesn't initiate a meeting. I called back and asked if e-mail would be OK, and they said no, the president wanted to see me."
So Gulati made an appointment to meet with Fry. As he waited in Old Main, he saw Sam Houser, secretary of the College and executive assistant to the president. "I told Sam that this could either be really good or really bad. He said, 'I think it's good.'"
Fry put Gulati's fears to rest, congratulating him on being the 2010 recipient of the Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes a member of the professional staff each year who consistently goes above and beyond what would normally be considered good performance; who has earned the respect of students and colleagues; and who has clearly demonstrated his or her commitment to the mission of the College.
"After spending many years at the institution, it's nice to feel that you're on the right track, that some of the things you're doing are valued," Gulati says.
Gulati joined the College in 1991 as acquisitions assistant in the library, serving in various capacities before becoming systems librarian in 2003. He has introduced several popular services for members of the campus community, including "Ask Andy" and "Library House Calls."
Students, faculty members and professional staff ask reference-related questions to "Ask Andy," which launched in 2000. The library staff answers questions for more than 1,000 inquiries per year. "I wanted to start something similar to 'Ask Jeeves,'" Gulati says. "Here, we've got all these expert research librarians. Why not provide a similar service?"
In the fall of 2003, Gulati initiated "Library House Calls," which brings librarians to departments across campus to answer questions about library-related issues. He says the program is a fun opportunity to drop in on faculty members and professional staff, and affords librarians a chance to see parts of the campus they otherwise might not visit.
However, Gulati's service extends far beyond the library, all the way to the Gulf Coast of the United States. He has donated abundant time and energy to the Catastrophic Relief Alliance (CRA), an organization he and a group of F&M students founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to provide physical support to recovery efforts. The CRA has made seven trips to the Gulf Coast since 2006, including a trip to Galveston, Texas, in January to aid the relief efforts following Hurricane Ike.
"It's kind of crazy when you think about it, how we've been able to sustain this much energy for this long," Gulati says of the CRA. "It's a testament to the type of students we attract at F&M. I feed off their energy. It's as much fun seeing students thrive as it is helping people in need.
"We want to see perpetuity in these projects, like House Calls and the CRA. I find that it's satisfying to work with students one-on-one. Faculty members have that type of relationship with students, so why can't a librarian? Students have the opportunity to engage with us in similar ways."