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Kraljic honored for distinguished service to College of Nursing

Portrait of Mary Kraljic

For much of her 32-year tenure at South Dakota State University’s Hilton M. Briggs Library, Mary Kraljic was a go-to resource for supporting the College of Nursing’s academic and research goals.

That’s why the now librarian emerita was honored with the College of Nursing’s 2022-23 Distinguished Service Award.

Kraljic retired in May after joining the Briggs Library faculty in 1991. Over the years, she served as both an access services librarian and a librarian of reference, instruction and off-campus library services.

One of her most significant roles at Briggs was serving as subject librarian to the College of Nursing and the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, acting as a liaison between the library and the colleges. She helped students, faculty and staff learn how to use resources and how to find the best information for whatever topic they were researching.

Kraljic said she had the privilege of collaborating on grants, providing research support, presenting at an international conference and collaborating with nursing colleagues across the state in many other ways. 

“My work with nursing students was rewarding and challenging in the best ways possible,” Kraljic said of her career. 

She said she’s pleased and proud to have been selected for the award. “It still makes me tear up to know that they thought so much of me. … I loved working with the students and faculty.”

After completing a master's degree in education from University of Texas, Kraljic served as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Thailand, then returned to school and earned her library degree from Texas Woman's University. She held library positions at a research institute, a branch of IBM, a public library and a community college before joining the Briggs Library faculty in 1991.

Christina Plemmons, assistant academic dean for cooperative programs for the College of Nursing, said Kraljic is respected for her knowledge and appreciated for her commitment to service. Plemmons cited many of the ways Kraljic shared her expertise with nursing students, faculty and staff over the years.

For example, as a cost-saving measure, Kraljic routinely searched for and arranged online student access to required course textbooks for advanced practice registered nurse and Ph.D. programs, Plemmons said.

Kraljic regularly presented to the undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Nursing students enrolled in the face-to-face Research and Evidence-Based Practice course. She demonstrated skills in finding the most recent comprehensive evidence to answer clinical questions. 

“When the course moved to a hybrid format, Kraljic recorded four videos to be stored for on-demand learning. Students reported this on-demand format was very beneficial because they could access the videos when they needed them and could access them multiple times. The students put these skills into practice to improve nursing practice and patient care outcomes,” Plemmons continued.

Kraljic provided support for the nursing Ph.D. program since it was established in 2005, which required evaluating research resources.

“Ms. Kraljic’s efforts led to broadening the scope of database subscriptions, coordinating with Wegner Health Sciences Library to facilitate faculty and student access to database resources at the University of South Dakota, and expanding interlibrary loan services with other institutions,” Plemmons explained. “She regularly met with each new cohort of Ph.D. students to provide orientation to library resources. She offered group and individualized instruction on search techniques, EndNote reference management software and related topics.” 

Kraljic also provided support for the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, assisting students on their evidence-based practice projects. 

Plemmons praised her individualized consultation and problem-solving skills. “Ms. Kraljic is known for her reliability and commitment to supporting the academic mission of the college and generously shared her time and knowledge to assist others,” she said.

Kraljic said it was challenging yet fascinating to learn about what students and faculty were researching. She also noted that some of the best student-employees during her time at Briggs Library came from the College of Nursing, because they were detail-oriented and efficient in their work.

The College of Nursing has always trained its students to do rigorous research and how to use resources to keep up in their field, Kraljic added. 

“I didn’t have to convince anyone of that, so it was always collaborative from the start, especially when introducing new resources to students,” she said.