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WSL Employee of the year: Theresa Connolly

Theresa ConnollyTheresa Connolly, Audio Production Supervisor for the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library (WTBBL) is the Washington State Library (WSL) Employee of the Year.

The transition to digital talking books in both physical form (cartridge) and downloadable form on the internet has increased access and equity for the blind. Whereas many libraries similar to WTBBL are only recently switching to digital production of local books, thanks to Theresa’s leadership, WTBBL is far ahead of the game.

Theresa worked at WTBBL for 15 years and put the digital system in place. Then she left, returning in 2008 when WTBBL became a direct service of WSL to “finish what she started.”

“Theresa exemplifies the best characteristics of WSL staff,” notes Acting State Librarian Rand Simmons. “Theresa is easily one of the most fair, just, and thoughtful people I know,” adds WTBBL Manager Danielle Miller, “and her return wasn’t simply to see digitization through, but to improve information access for people often marginalized and with scant resources.”

In the last year, Theresa made WTBBL the only library in the nation to offer locally produced books for download; she was the first to try and master the Nation Library Service encryption program; the first to test and master the Book Wizard Producer program for marking up digital books; and she presented and spent hours and hours helping her peers to help their own programs meet standard set by WTBBL and Theresa’s Audio Production Department.

“During the last year, Theresa also juggled training new volunteers, preparing books, editing, building, and uploading books with a complete change in audio recording and production software and hardware,” Miller notes. “Throughout all the changes and hiccups, Theresa kept her department going and in fact produced more books than ever before and began a project to make older titles available in digital format.”

Theresa would say she is not a technology person, and while that may be true to her, from Miller’s perspective she is the best kind of technology person: one who takes time to play and try and fail, and discover the best way to explain to another person. She also is aware there will be exceptions and work-arounds and she deals with these with humor and grace.

“I chose Theresa as the State Library’s Employee of the Year because she exemplifies an ideal employee of the Office of the Secretary of State and the Washington State Library,” Simmons remarked. Miller adds, “She is smart, committed, capable, creative, unrelenting, and a joy to her colleagues and the patrons she serves, both internal and external.”

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One Response to “WSL Employee of the year: Theresa Connolly”

  1. Tyler Martin Says:

    Technology is indeed opening up media in an astonishing way to the blind. The explosion of audiobooks has been a godsend.

    It’s unfortunate that more libraries have not pushed ahead with similar programs to the degree that WSL has, because what this means for blind people is beyond what most people can comprehend!

    Great job Theresa, kudos to you and your hard work. I hope others follow suit!