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Exhibit: 18th Annual Student Book Arts Competition

The 18th Annual Student Book Arts Competition Exhibit is now on display at the John C. Hitt Library’s 5th floor. The Student Book Arts Competition, sponsored by UCF Libraries Special Collections & University Archives, has been supporting student artist books since 2005. This year, the competition invited students to submit artist books created during the academic calendar year 2023-2024. 

Each year, one student receives a purchase prize for their submission, and the winning book art becomes part of the permanent Book Arts & Typography Collection at UCF Special Collections & University Archives. Book Arts Guild of Central Florida Public Relations and book arts educator David Nees from Mount Dora, Florida, was our guest judge. The 18th Annual Student Book Arts Competition awarded two students for their artist books, “How to Scam with Water Heaters” by Sean Logan and “Angels’ Number Cards” by Rebecca Tirado Ahearn. Both students exemplified the creativity and craftsmanship of book arts. Congratulations to Sean and Rebecca! The winning artist books will be on display until August 2024.

Student Sean Logan Holding Their Artist Book
Sean Logan with artist book “How to Scam with Water Heaters” at Special Collections & University Archives.
Open view of Sean Logan's artist book "How to Scam with Water Heaters"
“How to Scam with Water Heaters” by Sean Logan. Artist book hand bound with handmade paper and linoleum block prints.
Rebecca Tirado Ahearn holding artist book "Angels' Number Cards" at Special Collections & University Archives.
Rebecca Tirado Ahearn holding artist book “Angels’ Number Cards” at Special Collections & University Archives
“Angels’ Number Cards” by Rebecca Tirado Ahearn. Accordion book with hand marbled Suminagashi and linoleum block prints.

For more information about the Student Book Arts Competition go to: stars.library.ucf.edu/bookartscompetition

Welcome new librarians, Rachel and Stephanie!

UCF Libraries is proud to welcome two new librarians to the Knighthood starting on August 8. Rachel Vacek is the new Associate Dean of Technology & Digital Strategies, and Stephanie Bertone is the new Monographs Cataloging librarian.

Rachel Vacek

The University of Central Florida (UCF) Libraries is excited to announce the appointment of the new Associate Dean of technology and digital strategies, Rachel Vacek, effective August 8, 2023. Vacek is currently head of design and discovery at the University of Michigan.

In her role at UCF, Vacek will lead the library’s re-envisioned technology and digital strategies division and build on its strong foundation to bolster technology lending services, library and institutional repositories, scholarly communication, web services, and public technologies. She’ll also work closely with campus partners and stakeholders to implement technology-enhanced spaces and services throughout the John C. Hitt Library.

“UCF is an amazing, diverse, innovative, and rapidly growing campus full of opportunities and a history of impact,” Vacek said. “The Libraries are equally as impressive and offer cutting-edge services and beautiful, functional spaces for faculty, staff, and students to learn, grow, and be inspired.”

“I am honored to join the UCF Libraries in this new role, and excited about the opportunity to lead and grow the division with a user-centered and inclusive approach in areas that support digital scholarship and the evolving technological needs of researchers, instructors, and students,” Vacek said.

As an accomplished and nationally recognized library leader, Vacek has experience in building collaborative partnerships, leading technology initiatives, and creating strategic plans. She has over 20 years of experience working in large academic libraries, including seven years in her current role at the University of Michigan where she works in partnership with library IT leadership to manage the highly complex and diverse library technology portfolio of the U-M Library. She also provides vision and direction for website and application development, user experience design and research, and digital accessibility across the library’s numerous platforms.

Prior to her work at the University of Michigan, Vacek served for nine years at the University of Houston Libraries as a web coordinator and then as the head of web services. She also worked at Vanderbilt University and Miami University of Ohio.

Vacek is a former president of the Library and Information Technology Association, a division of the American Library Association (ALA) that has since merged with two others to become ALA’s newest division, Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures.


Vacek is an accomplished scholar with a wide range of publications, and she speaks regularly at regional and national conferences on topics such as service design, user experience strategy, web technologies, digital accessibility, and the intersection of these with diversity, equity, and inclusion.

She holds a Master of Arts degree in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Dayton.

Stephanie Bertone

The University of Central Florida (UCF) Libraries is pleased to welcome Stephanie Bertone ‘11 back to the Knight Nation. Stephanie will join the Libraries on August 8, 2023 as the Monograph Cataloging Librarian. 

Ms. Bertone earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies from UCF in 2011 before moving forward to compete a Master of Science in Library & Information Studies at Florida State University in 2012. She has worked for Barry University School of Law Library since 2015 where she gained experience as an Electronic Resources Librarian cataloging and managing access to online resources and print materials for students and staff. Her collaborative experience with projects involving the Florida Academic Repository (FLARE) and other collection management projects will be a great asset to the Libraries. 

Celebrate UCF Libraries Welcome to Our Associate Dean of Academic Engagement Tom Caswell

Welcome to UCF Libraries, Tom Caswell!

UCF Libraries is excited to announce the new Associate Dean of Academic Engagement, Tom Caswell!

Mr. Caswell received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Florida and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida. Since 2016, he has been the Associate Dean for public services at the University of North Florida, where he helped nurture public service areas through the uncertainties of the pandemic. He supported student and faculty research by serving on the UNF Research Council, Graduate School Council, the Undergraduate Research Advisory Council, and the Textbook Affordability Initiative. Mr. Caswell also supported diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education through membership in the UNF DEI College Collaborators, serving as the library liaison to the LGBTQ+ Resource Center and mentoring students as part of the Intercultural Center’s Connections Student Mentoring Program.

In addition at UNF, he facilitated the creation of two new faculty lines (Virtual Learning Librarian and STEM Online Learning Librarian) and reimagined five staff lines to support shifts in user needs while overseeing a robust research and instruction program that is responsive to the curricular needs of five distinct colleges comprised of over 17,000 graduate and undergraduate students.

Prior to UNF and over a period of 27 years, Mr. Caswell served in a variety of roles at the University of Florida, including several leadership positions, and culminating as Assistant Head Librarian, Architecture and Fine Arts Library.

Mr. Caswell has published and presented on library public services broadly and art librarianship specifically, with an overarching theme throughout of creativity and innovation in academic engagement. Mr. Caswell also has received two NEH grants to digitize the history and culture of our nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida.

When asked about what he anticipates most in his new position at UCF Libraries, he responded: “I’m excited to be joining a very dynamic team that is fully engaged in connecting users physically and virtually across library resources, services, and spaces.”

Congratulations, Tom, and welcome to the UCF Libraries family!

Celebrate UCF Libraries 2022 June Stillman Scholarship Winner Crystal Lu

2022 June Stillman Scholarship Winner

UCF Libraries is proud to announce that Crystal Lu is the 2022 recipient of the June S. Stillman Memorial Endowed Scholarship. 

Crystal Lu, 2022 June Stillman Scholarship winner

Lu is a third-year biology student pursuing the pre-vet/zoology track. She owns two pigeons and a green-cheeked parakeet and wishes to study ornithology and conduct research in a medical setting in order to aid in the conservation of birds. Lu started working at the Acquisitions and Collections Department in the John C. Hitt Library in March 2021. Her library responsibilities include maintaining serial records in Alma, processing and shelving serials, checking the microfilm collection for vinegar syndrome, and processing book donations. 

Lu’s volunteer experiences include greyhound pets of greater Orlando and Seminole county parrot rescue and sanctuary where she tended the animals and cleaned up after them. 

In the words of Lu’s supervisor, Joe Bizon, “Crystal is one of our valued student workers, proving herself to be a dedicated worker. She has earned my trust, and I do not shirk from giving her any task, knowing that it will be accomplished reliably. I find Crystal outgoing, easy to work with, and possessing of a good sense of humor.” 

This is the 24st awarding of the Stillman Scholarship, which is given to a student or staff member of the UCF Libraries. June S. Stillman was one of the first two librarians hired when UCF (then Florida Technological University) opened in 1968. Her impact on students can be seen from a 25th anniversary survey of the first graduating class, a majority of whom listed her as a key figure from their student days. Stillman received her second master’s degree in English literature from UCF while working as the Head of Reference Services at the Library. She retired in 1996 and tragically passed away in 1998. Her friends and family established the June S. Stillman Memorial Endowed Scholarship in her honor. She is remembered as a consummate professional, the epitome of gentility and compassion, and a proponent of lifelong learning. 

Celebrate UCF Libraries Textbook Affordability Librarian Lily Dubach

Welcome to the new Textbook Affordability Librarian

Lily Dubach started as a Student Assistant in the Acquisitions Department in 2014, then held part-time roles in other departments, including as Adjunct Librarian for the Office of Scholarly Communication before joining us full time as the Connect Librarian supporting the Valencia West Campus.  She has a Bachelor of Science from UCF and a Master of Science in Information from Florida State University.

Lily officially becomes the new Textbook Affordability Librarian on May 8, 2021. In this role, she collaborates with teaching faculty, librarians, instructional designers, and pertinent campus units to promote and transition traditional course content to affordable textbook alternatives. These textbook alternatives include open educational resources (OER) and library-sourced materials. To date, UCF faculty have taught over 950 classes using open or library-sourced materials, in turn reaching over 65,000 students and potentially saving them just over $6.7M as of Spring 2021.

For more information about how Lily can help you reduce textbook costs, visit our Textbook Affordability page.

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