NORFOLK, Va. — The Library Director at the Joint Forces Staff College's Ike Skelton Library was recently recognized for her outstanding accomplishments in the military library field by the Military Libraries Division of the Special Libraries Association (SLA).
Dr. Gail Nicula received the division’s 2012 Distinguished Service Award, citing her efforts to enhance the collaboration among the library staffs throughout Hampton Roads and the College and her work supporting the SLA. The Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) is part of the National Defense University (NDU).
"This award is indicative of the outstanding work that Dr. Nicula has done since she arrived here. We are all proud of her accomplishments," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Ward, JFSC commandant. "Gail has worked extremely hard to maintain the Ike Skelton Library as a respected and established facility. She has been integral in shaping the library to best support the JFSC mission and ensure that it endures as a valued and critical resource used daily by our students, staff and faculty."
Dr. Nicula has been a member of the SLA since 1975 and has overseen the Ike Skelton Library as library director since 1991.
The award cited in part her accomplishments in hosting the 2011 Military Libraries Workshop (MLW) as well as her work on earlier workshops. In 2003, Dr. Nicula worked on that year's MLW as the program planner. The NDU Library hosted the workshop, and Dr. Nicula and her staff created an experiential learning opportunity for librarians attending the workshop.
The Ike Skelton Library team showed the librarians that they could create sophisticated exhibits without special resources. In fact, the Ike Skelton Library team created a display of the History of Military Libraries on site. Attendees were able to watch the exhibit as it was built; program planners hoped that it would inspire other military library staff members to create similar information at their libraries.
Dr. Nicula, along with her colleague Maria Ruckman, offered to host the 2011 workshop held in Norfolk. Program planning actually began two years in advance. They gathered local area librarians from all the Services to get their program ideas and speaker suggestions. The program committee also contacted the Visitor’s Bureau for the City of Norfolk to get information on tours and activities in the area for the workshop attendees.
In particular, Dr. Nicula was instrumental in getting the newest staff members of the Ike Skelton library involved. The staff took on the duties such as Webmaster, registration assistance, and sponsor presentation support. She also persuaded retired library staff to participate in the planning effort by serving in key budgeting and onsite registration roles.
Her overall efforts hosting the 2011 workshop resulted in 130 attendees and more than 45 sponsors to the InfoExpo. Highlights included Meet and Greet First Timers, a sit-down Networking Breakfast and numerous tours and events outside the workshop.
'The Special Libraries Association, and the Military Libraries Division of SLA, is for me, the most important professional organization for military librarians," said Dr. Nicula. "Because we really speak a different language and operate under very unique constraints, SLA and the military division enable this niche group of library professionals to share like experiences, take courses designed to meet our needs, and offer and receive guidance and advice to and from colleagues who understand our service model."
Dr. Nicula said that she is proud of the fact that the students and faculty at JFSC "know they can count on us at the library for professional, expert, and timely information services."
She offers the following advice to aspiring military librarians: "Ask questions if you don't understand something," she said. "Find a mentor and reach out to others. Don't stay in your office or at your desk in the library -- get out and meet your customers. Find out what your customers want, and then make it happen."