Scott from Battle Creek, Michigan

1. How long have you known the nominee and how did you come to know him or her?
I came to know Margaret “Gigi” Lincoln in the late 1980’s as a high school student at Lakeview High School.  She was our school’s librarian and had a reputation of running a tight ship.  I am not sure how it happened, but I became a Library Assistant during my high school career and was put to work stacking books, filing microfiche, assisting my fellow students – and of course, helping Mrs. Lincoln run that tight ship.  Thirteen years ago I began teaching at the same school I graduated from; the same school that Mrs. Lincoln is still the Media Specialist and Librarian.  So I have known Gigi Lincoln for over twenty years, the last thirteen as a friend and colleague.

2.  Please list a few ways in which the nominee has helped you and others and made your experience of the library a positive one.
Gigi Lincoln has had a profound impact on me and my students.  During my first few years as a teacher, Gigi asked me if I might be interested in applying for a Fellowship with the Library of Congress’ American Memory program.  Of course I was surprised that of all the teachers in the building, many more experienced than I, Gigi asked me.  This action in and of itself had a profound impact on me.  It was a huge boost of confidence in my ability.  Our application was accepted and we enjoyed a week long experience at the Library of Congress designing a unit on WWI using primary sources from their American Memory collection.  That unit still resides on the Library of Congress’ website.

But that is not where our collaboration ends.  Later in our careers, we decided that we had to work together again on something of significance.  So we turned our attention to WWII and the Holocaust.  This collaboration has grown in many different ways over the years and has affected dozens of teachers and their classrooms.  We first worked to bring a traveling exhibit from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about Oskar Schindler to our city.  Thousands of students and members of the general public toured the exhibit.  That project went so well that we decided to bring a larger exhibit from the Holocaust Museum.  This time, the “Hidden Children” exhibit was awarded a stop in New York, Chicago, and our city of Battle Creek.  We quickly went to work to develop supporting activities in our schools and in our community to support the exhibit.  We brought education specialists from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to our local public library to train dozens of teachers in the area in how best to teach about the Holocaust.  Next, we brought in Pierre Sauvage, an award winning documentary filmmaker to present his Holocaust film, “Weapons of the Spirit,” to over 4,000 students during the day and again to a packed house of the community at night.  Next, we partnered with the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra to bring cellist Alisa Weilerstein and actor and musician Theodore Bikel to Battle Creek in support of the Hidden Children Exhibit.  We brought in Miriam Winter to give a book talk about her Holocaust memoir “Trains,” and artist Miriam Brysk to display her Holocaust inspired art.  Finally, Rene Lichtman came to host a panel discussion of Holocaust survivors - all of this on top of the actual exhibit which was toured by thousands of students and members of the general public.

But we were not done.  Just a few years ago, we began a collaboration with Gerda Weissman Klein, the Klein Foundation, and MAGPI to participate in the series of videoconferences through the “Stand Up! Speak Out. Lend A Hand!” program.  The project features a videoconference with Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein, who asks students to help make the world a better place.  Students, usually with no more additional motivation, take it upon themselves to figure out how they can make the world a better place.  Our students have helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity, volunteered at our local V.A. Hospital, and even collected school supplies for Iraqi children among other things.  The second part of the videoconference series is to report back to Gerda what the students did as a result of the first videoconference.  This was such an emotional and meaningful project that Gigi decided that we needed to bring Gerda to our school.  So, once again, Gigi developed a program and plan to bring Gerda Weissmann Klein to Battle Creek.  Before her visit, Gigi bought copies of Gerda’s book, “All But My Life,” worked with both Social Studies and English classes in our school and around the country to read Gerda’s book and discuss it on a Blog.  This project is still being used by teachers today.  Of couse, Gerda’s visit to our town included a talk to thousands of students (which was broadcast live across the internet), a talk with the general public, and informal personal exchanges with students who had been inspired to do good as a result of Gerda Weissmann Klein.  But more to the point of this response, it is Gigi Lincoln that has inspired many teachers and students and it has been Gigi Lincoln who has opened the doors to a world of knowledge and experiences that otherwise would have remained closed.  Her work, as you see, may start in our school library, but it extends into our work as teachers, our minds as learners, and our hearts as human beings.

3. How has the library, and the nominee, improved the quality of your life?
Gigi Lincoln’s impact on students and the learning process has been immeasurable.  What is most amazing is that after thirty years as this school’s librarian, it is Gigi Lincoln who is coming up with the new ideas.  It is Gigi Lincoln who is pushing us younger teachers to try exciting and innovative strategies to connect with students.  I have mentioned the Book Blogs she set up to provide a forum for students from various cities and backgrounds to discuss a book they are reading together.  She has pushed for the use of videoconferencing in our classrooms.  She has sought out new research materials for teachers and students, especially electronic academic journals and the like.  She has maintained a love of books and of reading all the while updating our library with the latest technology.  She has championed information literacy and has helped us teach the skills of judging the value and validity of information to our students.  In every professional development workshop and endeavor our teachers engage in, Gigi is always there in the middle out of it, seeking ways for the library to be supportive of our endeavors.  All in all, Gigi Lincoln has had a huge impact on the learning process in almost every field of academics in our school.

4. How does the nominee make the library a better place? Please be specific.
Our school is a better place because of Gigi Lincoln.  There is no doubt about that.  Besides being ready to assist ANY student or teacher at a moment’s notice at all times, Gigi makes sure that people are recognized for their work, their successes, and their professional and personal accomplishments.  If a teacher or student wins an award, Gigi makes sure they are recognized.  If a teacher gets married or has a child, it is Gigi who buys the staff gift and presents it.  Gigi Lincoln organizes staff lunches, gift exchanges, cookie exchanges, etc.  Gigi organizes our National Honor Society.  She runs our Quiz Bowl team.  Gigi Lincoln is an example of a selfless individual who will do anything for anybody at anytime and expects nothing in return.  It is time she got something in return.

5. How has the librarian made a difference in the community?
Gigi Lincoln has continued her to educate herself and educate others.  She earned a Distance-Independent Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Information Science in 2006 from the University of North Texas as well as earning an Educational Technology Certification from Michigan State University in 1996.  She has been published in many trade publications and books, including, but not limited to:

“The traveling museum exhibitor: A resource for learning; The digital doctorate in library/information science,” in Thinking Outside the Book: Essays for Innovative Librarians (2008).

“Virtual reference service at Lakeview High School,” in Virtual Reference on a Budget (2008).

“All But Her Life,” in School Library Journal (2007).

“Media Makeover: Lakeview High School,” in Media Spectrum (2006).

“Witness to History,” in School Library Journal (2006).

“A Proactive Response to Plagiarism,” in Guiding Students from Cheating and Plagiarism to Honesty and Integrity: Strategies for Change (2005).

“Weeded Books Inspire Student Art Projects,” Library Media Connection (2004).

“A Tragedy Revisited: Students Reflect on the Painful Lessons of the Holocaust,” in School Library Journal (2003).

And this is just a sample of all that Gigi has done to both inform fellow teachers and librarians and in the process document, reflect, and evaluate her own performance.  She has presented at numerous conferences, including the 6th International Conference on Holocaust Education in 2008 and the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust in 2006.

In addition, she is always there to train teachers in our own building on how better use the resources available to us in our school and in our classrooms.  All in all, there is no question that Gigi Lincoln has had a tremendous impact on her profession and the field of education as a whole.