By Katie Cline
Jacksonville State University is proud to announce that one of its own librarians, Charlcie Pettway Vann, has been named the winner of the 2015 National Library Week’s Librarians Creating Communities of Kindness contest. She was selected based on an outpouring of praise from nominations made on her behalf.
Vann has loved libraries her entire life and began volunteering in her hometown library in Plainfield, New Jersey when she was a child. As she grew older, it was only natural that she pursue library science as a profession.
“Learning and sharing information has always been my passion,” Vann said. “I cannot imagine life without libraries.”
Vann’s career in librarianship spans a remarkable 25 years. She earned her Master of Library Science degree in 1996 from North Carolina Central University. She worked around North Carolina following her graduation, interning at the SAS Institute and working at the Air Resources Research Consortium of North Carolina State University and at Cato Research. Her first job as a university librarian was at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. She credits VSU with teaching her imperative skills in librarianship.
Today, Vann is the Psychology, Philosophy, and General Reference Librarian at Houston Cole Library and an Associate Professor at JSU. She joined the Houston Cole Library staff in 2006, and in 2008 founded the Houston Cole Library Lunchtime Lecture series. Since its inception, nearly 20 speakers have visited JSU to speak at the library on topics of their various passions and specialties at no cost to the university.
In an interview with Morgan Kubelka at Wiley publishing, which sponsored the contest, Vann shared her “amazement” at winning, because kindness is something she doesn’t feel she has to think about; it comes naturally to her.
“Kindness was never an option in my family,” Vann explained, “It is a commandment.”
And in the true fashion of a generous soul, Vann refuses to take all the credit for her award, saying, “If it were not for great mentors, so many I cannot name them all, in my life, it would have been difficult to pass the kindness forward. I want to thank all of my colleagues from JSU and various universities and community leaders who thought enough of me to nominate me for the contest. I have some of the best colleagues in academia. I am the only African-American librarian at the Houston Cole Library, and I appreciate the freedom I feel to share some of my culture through the various displays. I want to thank my dean, John-Bauer Graham, for encouraging all of the librarians to seek avenues to serve.”
As winner of the award, Vann receives paid-in-full registration to a librarians’ conference in Charleston, South Carolina in November, but the biggest reward is the kind words written by all those who felt her worthy of this recognition.
“Charlcie Vann is a powerful and dedicated woman,” one nomination read. “She is constantly extending herself to the students at JSU to assist in providing programs, research materials, and continual assistance in their many endeavors.”
Another nominator highlighted Vann’s commitment to bringing attention to the wide range of ethnicities prevalent across JSU’s diverse student body: “She organized a luncheon to bring an ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse faculty and staff together for sharing and exchanging ideas in a social environment. She continually highlights diversity in her displays in the library.”
Of kindness, Vann says, “Ubuntu is an African humanitarian philosophy which means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’ I am what I am because of the love, encouragement and sacrifice of my parents and ancestors. My grandmother used to say, ‘Baby, kindness will take you places where your education cannot. It costs you nothing but it is valuable’.”
Charlcie Pettway Vann is a caring and dedicated woman committed to her job, her students, and her university, and she is a gift to all who know her and have been touched by her kindness.
About the photo: Even JSU mascot Cocky has been on the receiving end of Charlcie Pettway Vann's kindness. Vann was recently honored in the National Library Week's Librarians Creating Communities of Kindness contest. (Steve Latham/JSU)