AZLA 2017 Conference – pick me! statement

I’m submitting a scholarship application for the AZLA 2017 Conference this year. I can’t afford both the conference and lodging, so here is my statement:


I am requesting an AZLA 2017 Conference scholarship, as I am unable to afford both the travel and lodging and the conference. Also, my employer will not pay for the cost of the conference.

My intent upon obtaining my Masters in Information Resources and Library Science was to become a public librarian. Unfortunately, despite many interviews, I have not yet been selected for that role.

Instead, I am the Workforce Development Coordinator for the Pima County Health Department, and though I am not recognized by my employer as an information professional (or better, a librarian), I have developed and manage a Learning Center, I provide staff training and development opportunities, I am developing a Reward & Recognition program, and I am developing an academic volunteer and internship program. I have also begun reorganizing my program’s shared folder space and by doing so, I am working toward gaining knowledge and experience in the area of knowledge management (and taxonomies).

It is unfortunate, that my employer is yet to recognize the worth of having someone with an MIRLS (part of why I can’t get funding), but I continue to promote my skills, abilities and knowledge so that in the future, if and when I leave, my employer recognizes a librarian on staff is imperative.

In the meantime, by keeping myself in touch and engaged with the AZLA, it has helped me recognize and understand that the type of work is transferable to many areas and fields. Attending AZLA would allow me the opportunity to network with other information pro’s and librarians where I can learn how to do my job better (and maybe allow me to pursue my dream of becoming a public librarian).

I hope I am selected, as I would love to attend.

Kelli Stephens



The Making of a Free Little Library – The First Coat

Last Sunday, only two of the many volunteer (FLL) stewards met to decorate the old newspaper box installed at Chuck Ford-Lakeside Park in my neighborhood. The city also installed a bench to go with it!

FLL before 1

The newspaper box, turned FLL, now sits directly next to a green games court painted with different colors for kid games, such as four-square, duck, duck, goose, hopscotch and a maze.

game court

We decided to match the color of the FLL to the colors of the games court and in just under two hours, we managed to clean it, sand it and apply 3 coats of green paint. We will meet another time to add the color blocks.

FLL green 3

I made a flyer and went to stock the FLL with some young adult fiction my niece donated. Unfortunately, the top of the box was already tagged.

FLL Flyer

This morning, I contacted the library assistant and the principal of the school that sits next to the park to let them know the FLL is stocked and ready to go! I also asked that they inform students, parents and staff, as the FLL is for all ages! I’m also hoping to get some book donations as well!  

On Sunday, the Mayor is holding an event, for a Free Little Library Day proclamation, which I was invited to and am excited to be a part of it!


Little Free Library Librarian

I will be a librarian after all!

A few weeks ago, via the social networking site, Nextdoor, our neighborhood’s community service officer put out a, “Lakeside-Chuck Ford Little Free Library Volunteers needed!”  A “little free library” was being installed at the park at the end of my block and volunteers were needed to be library stewards. 

I, along with a couple of others volunteered and a few weeks later, an old newspaper box was installed and viola, a little free library!

This morning, I went to take a look at the box, and it needs some work. It needs to be cleaned, painted and decorated.

I looked online and found some really cute ideas and one of the other stewards sent out an email asking to set up a time to meet and decorate.

Image result for little free library out of newspaper boxImage result for little free library out of newspaper boxImage result for little free library out of newspaper box

I also looked into registering the little free library. For $39.00, the free little library will get:

  • An official charter sign engraved with your Library’s unique charter number.
  • The option to add your Library to the world map. People will use the map to find and visit your Library.
  • Access to a private Facebook group for registered stewards. Swap stories and connect with other stewards!
  • A Steward’s Guide of proven tips to make your Library a vital part of your community.
  • A subscription to our regular e-newsletter with inspiring stories, ideas, and special deals.
  • Access to brand new, deeply discounted books through First Book for stewards in low-income areas. In addition, you will get special book offers from publishers via our e-newsletter.
  • A “How Does this Library Work?” flier for your Library.

It sounds like it’s worth registering, especially since we’ll get placed on a world map and have access to other resources.

The library is located close to the kids playground, and will have a bench, which is super! We we should probably stock it with lots of baby, children’s and teen fiction books.

I’d also like to have a suggestion box, bookmarks, stickers/stamps for the books donated, maybe even a guest book. I’m not sure how to accomplish all of that, given the design of the free little library, but still things to consider.

I am super excited to part of something like this, and even though, in my career, I am not a “traditional” librarian, I live, breathe, eat and sleep librarianship of any and all forms, and I’ll take it whenever and wherever I can get it!

Solo SLA 2017 Session Recap: How to Manage Annoying People

Solo Session: How to Manage Annoying People brought giggles and commentary from our Twitter SLAers during the SLA 2017 Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. And I get it. I mean, really, as a Solo Librarian, why would you be dealing with annoying people?

Oh, let me count the ways…

Solo librarians may be the only librarian in an organization, but we don’t necessarily work alone. Instead, we can be found providing valuable services to a much larger organization in a wide range of industries with varying missions, goals and information needs.

Based on many of the conversations amongst the many solos, the consensus seemed to be that those whom we work for and with, may not fully understand what we do, and therefore, spend time explaining to our coworkers what we do.

Speaker and CEO/Founder Aligned Workplace, Ilene Marcus might ask, “Is this amazing? Or is it annoying?”

To which us solos would likely reply, “Annoying!” 

Although this may not be the type of annoying situation Marcus is necessarily targeting. Instead, think about the person who interrupts us while working to chit chat at length about the weekend, politics or to complain about work. Think about the person who sits in on a working meeting to gossip, rather than contributing to the work.

During this session, Marcus provided an overview of some basic ideas about how to handle annoying people and annoying situations. (She differentiated between incompetent people and annoying people. Incompetent people are unable to do their jobs.) Annoying people may be competent, except for the fact that they exhibit behaviors that are irritating, obnoxious, bothersome, and in some cases a huge energy and time-suck for those around them.

According to Marcus, because librarians are such special breed, it is in our nature to want to help people, and this can sometimes create situations where we accommodate these annoying people and the amount of time they waste. However, she reminded us that we have an “economic contract” with our employer, and we must not ignore situations that hinder our ability to do our jobs.

Marcus stated, the key to managing annoying people was our reaction, and she provided tactics for dealing with them. These included ways to protect our boundaries by managing our time. For example, use non-verbal communication and body language to exhibit that we are not available for small talk, then politely ask the offender to come back at a specific time to talk or if possible, ask him/her for help with the project/work.

Marcus also reiterated that even if we are not motivated to deal with our annoying people, it is important to keep track of the amount of time spent dealing with them; time not working. Then refer to that economic contract with our employer. If we find that the annoying person is preventing us from fulfilling this obligation, there is no way around it, we must deal with him/her.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit Ilene Marcus’ website at or buy her book, Managing Annoying People: 7 Proven Tactics to Maximize Team Performance on Amazon.

I Slay!


At the Solo No Host Dinner, I sat with my conference lanyard and badge around my neck with another solo librarian waiting for the rest of the solos to show up. As we chatted, hoping to be noticed by other solos coming in, a man walked up and asked, “Are you the librarians?”

We both chuckled, “Yes.”

That was certainly a defining moment for me at the conference.

Yes, I AM a librarian.

The conference was terrific!

It still sucked that I had to pay for it on my own, but I learned so much! Both about being a librarian or information professional or what not, but also about myself!

I met a ton of librarians who worked in so many different areas, doing so many different things:
-A guy who called himself a Cybrarian at Uber
-A lady who was the solo librarian in a small graphics art college
-A lady who conducted research for the Latter Day Saints
-A lady who worked as an information manager at Rolls Royce..

The list goes on and on…  so many different librarians in different places and spaces.

I sat in on a session on Taxonomies and became intrigued. I ended up sitting in on a few sessions on Knowledge Management and I think I’m hooked.

Basically, librarians who work in taxonomy and knowledge management are hired in companies to organize company files. They create archives, folder organization and sometimes implement systems that either employees or customers can use to search.

I want to do that.

I thought I wanted to be a public librarian. I’m not so sure anymore.

I renewed my SLA membership on the last day of the conference, rejoined the Arizona Chapter, Solo Division, Embedded Caucus, and added the Taxonomy Division and Knowledge Management Divisions.

The SLA Conference really made me feel a part of something, even though my employer and coworkers don’t understand or recognize what I do as librarianship, the SLAers do.

The “L-word”

In my city, there is one public library system where I have always wanted to work as a librarian. Fortunately, in my city, there is also a University with an accredited School of Information (formerly School of Information and Library Science (SIRLS)), where I finally took that scary step and went to “library school.” My focus was in public librarianship.

After I graduated, I saw my dream of becoming a public librarian come to a screeching halt. I was offered an opportunity in the public health department, where I was responsible for developing a workforce development program, to include staff training and development and a library. What an exciting venture! I would be doing information resource and librarian work, only without the official “librarian” title. I would be able to use my education and professional resources to learn and grow and develop a corporate library and services from scratch. One would think this is an excellent way to gain librarianship experience. Right?

Wrong. My job is classified as a Special Staff Assistant, Senior, and is a mid-level professional position with a grade 51. An entry level professional librarian position is a grade 39, a Librarian I is 48, Librarian II is 54 and Librarian III is a grade 58.  

So while my current position is graded higher than a base Librarian and Librarian I position, and even though the work I am doing IS information resources and librarianship work, I still do not qualify for the Librarian II or III positions. I do not have the title.

The qualifications just to interview for a Librarian II are: (1) A Master’s degree in Library and Information Science (MLIS or MLS) from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited college or university and three years of professional-level experience performing library work and one year of general supervisory work-place experience (Note: supervisory experience may run concurrently with library experience identified above or may be ancillary) OR (2) One year of experience with the Public Library as a Librarian I.

Professional library associations, including ALA, AZLA, and SLA all recognize the non-traditional librarianship work AS library work; human resource analysts do not. Despite the fact that I have single-handedly developed a corporate library, created both online and paper catalogs, produced staff training and programming, acted as the sole resource and reference for staff development opportunities (especially for staff requiring CEUs), promoted the library, its resources and training, tracked usage and attendance, and worked with other departments to implement a learning management system county-wide (all things librarians do), in the eyes of human resources, I am not a librarian, nor do I have professional level librarianship experience.

If I was satisfied as solo librarian, then “L” word is just a word. The work I do IS librarianship. I know I am a librarian. I am recognized as such by some of my colleagues, by professional associations, and I know what I bring to my organization is valuable.

However,  my ultimate goal is to become a public librarian, and without the title, and without open minded human resource analysts (who do not really know what librarianship really is), the likelihood of my even interviewing for a library position at the appropriate level is minimal. In order for me to just get my foot in the door, I would have to apply for, compete for and  accept a lower level position with much lower salary. Without that “L-word” in my title, I’m stuck.  

A Solo at a Libraries Transform Conference


I’ve been a librarian by heart all my life, but only received my Masters in Information Resource and Library Science in May 2013. It wasn’t until last year that I realized that I AM an information professional, and that association memberships would  be helpful. So, I buckled down and paid for memberships with the American Library Association, Arizona Libraries Association and Special Libraries Associations, and I have found them invaluable in my work (and sanity).

The associations have kept me alive in my beloved field, and I have found an abundance of resources that allows me to feel and stay connected to my type of information professional, aka, solo librarians.

When I became an AZLA member, I signed up to volunteer at the AZLA 2016 Conference. This allowed me to attend 2 days for free!

Day 1

I was assigned as a presenter for a technology session that had 3 panel members. I was to introduce the panel and read a bio. I introduced myself to the presenters, who were all quite embarrassed about the formality of the session. They all agreed they did not want to be formally introduced, so instead of a presenter, I became an attendee.

The session was four hours long, about different technologies, particularly for maker spaces. Unfortunately, being a solo in a health department, some of the ideas, aside from the presentation method were not of any use to me.

However, I one of the presenters works with high school kids interested in volunteering to get work experience, asked for my contact information, as I am the volunteer/internship coordinator for the health department! A match made in heaven; we exchanged numbers.

Day 2

I walked in as key note speaker, Miguel Figueroa, with the Center for Future of Libraries, ALA, talked about the future of libraries. While it was inspiring and relevant to public and school librarians, it was hard to find much to take away as a solo.

In his speech, he stated, we must “…Recognize the value of the library professional.” Unfortunately, he did not identify how that is done in non-traditional librarian/library settings.

In my position, where I have multiple librarian-type duties, I was not hired because of my MIRLS, and I’m sure my successor will not be required to have one. However, I have a strong desire to make my superiors aware that the work that I do, the things I’ve accomplished are because of my education and connection to librarians and information professionals, and not just because “I’m a good worker.”

The one and only session I had a true vested interest and affinity for was: Librarians Transformed: Roads Less Traveled. It was incredibly gratifying to sit in a session and listen to three presenters who went to “library school,” with an idea of becoming a public librarian, and finding out getting in isn’t so easy.

With a tight economy, budget cuts, and the ridiculous idea that the internet can replace librarians, there aren’t a lot of librarian jobs out there, and the competition is fierce! There are people working at lower levels in the library while in the master’s program. It’s a sad, sad competitive library world.

This session solidified my idea that yes, my job may not have required a MIRLS, but I AM a librarian; and I am special. One of the speakers held a position very similar to mine where she worked on recruitment activities, created an internship program, and conducted outreach activity for a particular population.

After lunch, I volunteered in the exhibit hall at the raffle table. I met one of the librarians at the prison, and had some really interesting conversations with her about censorship of certain materials and the reading ability of inmates.

My last session was about Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records, where I learned about what is available via those websites, as well as resources for the visually impaired.

I stayed for the hors d’oeuvres and jam session, where a band comprised of 2 people who I worked with during my internship. I went to talk to Mike, who didn’t remember and Becca, who did.

Overall the experience was nice, but lonely. I wandered around alone, purchased 2 books from the exhibit hall and saw some interesting things, but most every exhibit and session was geared toward the traditional librarian (public or school). (I don’t even think there was much for academic librarians, even though the University of Arizona School of Information was there.) This made it really difficult to make any connections with other solos.

I did enjoy being around so many librarians and info pro nerds, and I will likely attend next year, hopefully as a volunteer. I found it to be a valuable experience, a little something to add to my resume, and much easier to meet people.

Fortunately, the Special Libraries Association Conference 2017 is in Phoenix, and I will be attending. As a matter of fact, I should look for volunteer opportunities there too! Right now!