Library student employee wins endowed scholarship

Ava rieger | staff photographer | Natalee Whartenby has been selected as the winner of the 2024 Gumberg Library Student Endowed Scholarship. Sara Baron, right, presented Natalee with the award.

Naomi Girson | Staff Writer

Gumberg Library, this week, honored a sophomore physicians assistant major with their annual student employee scholarship.

Natalee Whartenby received the 2024 Gumberg Library Student Endowed scholarship in the library reading room. Whartenby has worked at the library since the beginning of her freshman year.

At the award ceremony on April 10, she received a certificate and a plaque with her name on it that will be hung there.

According to Sara Baron, the dean of the library and speaker at the ceremony, the Gumberg Library Student Endowed Scholarship was created 21 years ago by library employees as a way to honor their student workers.

“It truly was a grassroots effort,” Baron said. “We had a few librarians who were committed to recognizing our student workers. They started this fund and they’ve added to it every year and it’s grown. And now the scholarship pays out about $1,200 to the winner.”

The open application process encouraged staff to nominate student employees. According to Elizabeth Sciulli each year they receive three to 10 nominees. This year, five students received a nomination to recognize their work in Gumberg.

Rewarding the students is important to the library employees.

“We just love rewarding our student employees. They open the library first thing in the morning, and they close the library late at night,” Baron said. “And they do so with smiling faces. They help us stay open and serve our students and visitors.”

This year, the theme for National Library Week at Gumberg is Ready Set Library, focusing on the dynamic aspects of the facility that make it more than just the basic services they provide, it is an interactive and innovative space for learning.

Aside from awarding the student scholarship, Gumberg hosted their second annual Human Library in which students could “check out” a Duquesne police officer.

As Baron said, the week looks into how “the Gumberg Library libraries.”

The awards ceremony also recognized the Gumberg Library Staff Excellence winner, Maribeth Condo. Condo has worked for the library for over four years.

“I’m shocked and very honored,” Condo said.

During the ceremony, Baron said that the staff award was created to recognize those who go above and beyond normal daily duties. Any member of the full-time staff can be nominated, and this year, that included 10 staff members.

Those who nominated Condo described her as dedicated, proactive, involved and supportive of the library’s mission. She has a spirit of excellence that can be aspired to, and she fosters a welcoming and inclusive environment, Baron said during her speech.

The staff award includes a $500 monetary reward and a paid day off work. There will also be a plaque recognizing Condo inside Gumberg.

Whartenby said she loves working in the library and plans to stay there for the foreseeable future. Both Whartenby and Condo gushed about the community at the library. The best part, they both said, is the people they work with. Whartenby described the library workplace as welcoming and judgment-free.

Whartenby reflected on the skills she has accumulated since she started her duties at Gumberg.

“Definitely a lot of patience, a lot of patience,” Whartenby said. “And just being able to work with others, and knowing that I can ask other people for help.”

Some of Whartenby’s friends and co-workers came to watch the ceremony.

Both senior Leeann Pawlak and sophomore Katie Leitholf enjoy working with Whartenby and in the library. They said it is always a fun environment, full of laughter and cheer.

They said that Whartenby is always friendly at the desk, and she is super nice and ready to help.

To celebrate National Library Week, the best thing students can do is be there.

“Just come, come to the library,” Condo said. “We have a lot of things to offer. I think a lot of people, especially the students, don’t know what’s really available to them. So come see us at the library.”