Please join me in extending a heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Annabel K. Stephens for winning the 2016 ALA Beta Phi Mu Award.
Within the state of Alabama and across the country, librarians have been touched by Dr. Stephens through her work as an LIS educator, a scholar, a mentor, and a benefactor. Her long, distinguished career and her unbounded energy as well has her generosity of spirit make her an excellent candidate for this award.
It would be difficult to find a public library in the state of Alabama that does not benefit from Dr. Stephens’ influence, and her students hold leadership positions in public libraries across the country. Throughout her career, she has positioned herself as mentor and friend, supporting librarians as they serve their communities, finding ways to encourage them as they face difficult political and financial situations within their libraries, and always advocating respect and dignity for all as a service model. She has changed the face of the rural public library, empowering directors with little access to formal LIS education to get their degrees. While Dr. Stephens’ reach is far and wide, I believe that most of her students would remark on the personal connections that she builds with her students. She demonstrates the model that she advocates, treating all of her students with genuine warmth, and she always finds time for them when they need her. Even in retirement, she continues to build personal relationships with her students, encouraging them to live generously and to be passionate about their work.
Supporting her long and active career in the classroom is Dr. Stephens’ strong record of scholarship. Her passion and commitment to public libraries extends throughout her career, as is exhibited by the books and articles that she has authored, including Public Library Collection Development in the Information Age and Assessing the Public Library Planning Process. In addition to her scholarship in collection development and planning, Dr. Stephens has a completed important research to promote diversity in library services and development, advocating that public libraries include outreach to marginalized communities such as the Latino community, the LGBTQ community, and the homeless.
Annabel Stephens’ record of service illustrates her dedication to her profession, to her university, and to her community. Dr. Stephens continues to serve on the American Library Association Committee on Accreditation External Review Panel, chairing the committee 3 times in the past decade. She served as Faculty Advisor for GLBQ (now LGBTQ) for two decades, on various University diversity committees, and served as a member of faculty senate for a number of years. Throughout her career, she tirelessly served the Alabama Library Association, chairing the Scholarship Committee and the Continuing Education Committee for several years. She continues to actively advocate for Alabama public libraries through service on the Alabama Library Association’s Legislative Committee. Her leadership and expertise in public librarianship throughout her career is evidenced by her numerous invited speaking engagements across the southeast. Dr. Stephens’ service record extends beyond her campus and her profession into the community, where she has served on the board of directors for West Alabama AIDS Outreach. For years she has volunteered with the Food Pantry at University Presbyterian Church, Hospice of West Alabama, and at Turning Point (a domestic violence and sexual assault agency).
Congratulations, Dr. Annabel Stephens! We are so glad you are in Alabama. Thank you for everything you do for us!