MLA Featured Library Employee — Kelsey Fitzgerald

Meet our most recent Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Kelsey Fitzgerald!

  • What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

Kelsey Fitzgerald, Ozark Regional Library, Youth Librarian

  • What originally got you interested in working at a library?

My interest in libraries was piqued as a child.  I couldn’t believe that there were entire buildings devoted to books.  As I grew older, I realized all that libraries have to offer.  I worked for a summer in my university library at Baylor University and that was when the wheels really started turning about making this a career.  I wanted to combine my love of books, education, volunteerism, and children and the perfect way to do that was to become a youth librarian.

  • What keeps you coming back every day?

The families in the communities I serve keep me coming back every day.  It is an amazing feeling when I see a child’s face light up while reading a book or participating in one of my programs.  My favorite part is seeing a shy or withdrawn child become more comfortable and start openly enjoying all of the wonders of the library.  The library is an amazing place for families to connect with others for entertainment, education, and support.

Another aspect of my job that keeps me coming back is the people that I work with at Ozark Regional Library and our shared desire to support the small, rural communities in which we live.  The library is a staple of the community and we want to offer the very best resources possible.  Combined with their desire to serve, my co-workers are kind, dedicated, and always good for a laugh.

  • What’s challenging about your work?

One of the biggest challenges I face is getting children and their families into the library.  Ozark Regional Library has four branches in small, rural communities and it is my responsibility to bring children and teen programs to all of them.  Transportation and time are the biggest obstacles in getting families through the library doors.  To help combat this, my co-workers and I offer programs in the local schools and daycares, and at community events.  Our library has developed strong collaborations with community groups, schools, extension offices, media and more to ensure that we reach as many people in our community as possible.

  • Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

My work has made me passionate about collection development.  My Library Director, Holly Martin Huffman, strives to have a collection of the very best materials and resources that will foster knowledge, imagination, and growth.  I am thrilled that I share some of the responsibility in developing the collections for children and teens.

My passion for collection development led to an amazing opportunity for me to serve on the Missouri Association of School Librarian’s Truman Readers Award Committee.  My participation on this committee has exposed me to hundreds of books for students in grades 6-8 and has introduced me to astounding school librarians that I may not have had the opportunity to work with otherwise.   If you’re not familiar with MASL’s Readers Award lists, I recommend checking them out because a great deal of hard work and dedication goes into making those lists by school librarians, public librarians, and students.

  • Who is one of your mentors?

I have been blessed to have worked with extraordinary people in all of the libraries in which I have served.  The staff at Smith Public Library in Wylie, Texas, where I held my first youth department position, helped me get a strong start in this career.  One particular individual that helped me get out of my comfort zone is Jennifer Ilardi, Youth Librarian at St. Louis County Library-Florissant Valley.  I had the pleasure of working alongside her for the better part of a year and I loved how she challenged me and how her passion for youth services was contagious.

  • What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

With my involvement in the MASL Truman Committee, I don’t have much time for TV, but I do read at least two books a week.  However, I don’t want to give any hints as to what might end up on that list, so I’ll just say that there have been some really good books published recently.

Personally, the book that keeps me constantly engaged is the Bible.  I read it every day and believe it is the best book ever written.  The Bible offers encouragement, courage, guidance, and truth.

  • Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Never underestimate the effect that libraries and library staff can have on a person’s life, especially the life of a child.


Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

Submit Your Presentation Proposal for the 2018 MLA Conference

MLA is now accepting program proposals for 2018 Conference – Stronger Together: Diversity of Libraries and Diversity in Libraries.  Submissions will be accepted until Wednesday, April 11th, and can include breakout sessions, table talks, poster sessions, pre-conferences, and networking events.
Please use this submission site.

This is a great opportunity to share with your fellow library folks in Missouri! Others may find new and fascinating something that seems commonplace for you. Showcase an event or program your library is doing, illustrate a problem your institution faced and how you solved it, do a genre presentation, talk about your favorite technology for particular library tasks, highlight the awesome leadership training program you attended…the possibilities are endless!

Questions? Send them to

Register now for the March 23 MACRL Workshop!

March 23, 2018

MACRL Webinar & Workshop

University of Missouri – Ellis Library

Fighting Fake News with the ACRL Framework



Schedule of Events:

  • Library Tour: Meet in 159 Ellis Library, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 10:00-11:00 AM
  • Collaborative Lunch at a local restaurant, 11:00-12:30 PM
  • Webinar, 12:30-1:30 PM
  • Discussion, 1:30 3:00 PM

RSVP by March 16:
Cost: FREE!  Parking available with RSVP

Thusnelda Schmidt Scholarship Winner Announced

In February, the Youth Services Community of Interest announced the 2018 recipient of the Thusnelda Schmidt Scholarship, Samantha Dozier!  Samantha is the Youth Librarian at the Weber Road Branch of St. Louis County Library.  The Youth Services Community of Interest is pleased to fund Samantha’s attendance at YALSA’s 2018 Young Adult Symposium.

As a Youth Librarian with St. Louis County Library Samantha serves hundreds of children, teens and their families/caregivers every month within her building. She also serves around 500 children in schools and daycare centers. She runs a variety of programs for all age groups, including baby story times, preschool art, story time for children with autism and their families, and home school students.  She has been involved in special programs, like summer and after school meals to children who visit the library, Earn-A-Bike Workshop, and Computer Coding Workshops. She has started a TAB program at her branch to involve teens in the library and provides passive programs and activities almost daily to the large number of teens who visit the library after school.

Samantha is planning on attending the YALSA 2018 Young Adult Symposium. She has increased programming to teens at her location, but sees a need for more support for this age group at her branch. She hopes to expand her knowledge in this area and learn new strategies for creating meaningful programs that will engage the teens, keep them coming back, and improve their behavior while at the library. She is passionate about working with this age group and is excited to be able to better serve and support the teens at her branch.

The Selection Committee wishes to thank all of our applicants and applauds the inspiring work you do on behalf of Missouri’s youth!

Thanks also to this year’s Selection Committee– Amy Held, Kristy Toplikar, Megan Durham, and Christy Schink.

Shelley Bretsnyder
Youth Services Community of Interest (YSCI) 2018 Past Chair