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Massey Award: Enthusiastic DeLon helps `people work together’

During the Bicentennial Campaign, employees had not received raises for two years, but Campus Campaign Co-chair Barbara Ann DeLon convinced them to donate a total of $2.7 million.

At a time of budget cuts, when funding for some new staff positions is less than certain, DeLon, library personnel officer, has persuaded the best candidates for job openings to stay interested until money is made available for the salaries.

An expert when it comes to working with people, DeLon can be counted on to unravel the knottiest personnel problems before they become issues.

These talents, just a few of DeLon’s contributions to the University, demonstrate why she won a 1995 C. Knox Massey Award for distinguished service.

Her duties involve overseeing personnel operations for some 265 employees of the Academic Affairs Library, which includes Davis, Wilson and the Undergraduate libraries as well as 11 other branches in various departments.

“It’s an incredibly interesting job,” said DeLon, who said her favorite aspect of it was “the constant opportunity to learn and expand and grow. It’s limitless, what you can achieve here.”

The position has held its challenges for DeLon, who came to the library in 1987 from UNC Hospitals, then known as N.C. Memorial, and had to learn an entirely new vocabulary.

“There are lots of acronyms,” said DeLon, who took courses dealing with cataloging, serials and acquisitions to better communicate with library staff. “And libraries are extremely complicated … [when I started here], we were coming into the technological age, which added another layer.”

DeLon’s eagerness to learn about the library system has earned her the respect of her colleagues and supervisors, who comment on her energy and lively approach to any project she takes on.

“Barbara was not a librarian before she came to us, but she has adopted our enthusiasm in bringing people together with books,” said Joe Hewitt, associate provost and University librarian. “She has really bought into the value system of libraries, which is centered on people who want information in whatever form.”

As well as learning all she can about the library environment, DeLon has excelled at serving on boards from the Staff Employee Grievance Committee to the Chancellor’s Start-up Committee for the Employee Forum.

“When people need something extra done, they think of Barbara,” said Larry Alford, senior associate university librarian. “Part of it is her personability, and part of it is her extraordinary ability to help people work together.”

She also works hard for groups outside the University, recently giving a series of classes for women at a disadvantage in the job market, discussing how to find and keep a job.

“Sharing information–that’s the most important thing we can do for each other,” she said.

But some, including those who worked with DeLon on the Campus Campaign, say one of the most important things DeLon does is inspire those she meets.

“People she deals with always stretch higher and farther,” said Marjorie Crowell, director of special campaigns at the Development Office. “She just stayed so positive and enthusiastic all the way through the campaign–she believed that people were going to do the right thing and donate.”

DeLon also is known for her sensitivity and tact in dealing with difficult personnel problems, her strong commitment to constructive problem-solving and her sincerity.

“I’ve never met anybody with quite so much energy who cared so much for people as Barbara does,” said Alford.


Originally published by University Gazette: June 21, 1995

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