Karen Kitchens, the Wyoming State Library’s State Publications Librarian, has been honored by the Wyoming Library Association as its 2017 Outstanding Librarian. This award recognizes significant and outstanding accomplishments by a library employee in the past year.
“I’m incredibly humbled and surprised to receive this award from my peers and colleagues,” Karen said. “This means a great deal to me. Wyoming librarians are truly some of the most dedicated, hard-working, and creative folks within our profession. I’m happy that what I could contribute to WLA was of value to this amazing group. Thank you!”
Karen graduated from the Wyoming Library Leadership Institute in 2005 and has continued to display her leadership talents. She recently served on the WLA Executive Board as the Interest Groups Representative, and was the 2015-16 Patent and Trademark Resource Center Association President.
“Karen’s an amazing librarian,” said Jamie Markus, Wyoming State Librarian. “Her dedication to serving the public, state employees, and other librarians is exemplary, but it’s her additional contributions to the Wyoming Library Community this year that pushed her into the realm of outstanding and beyond — most notably her part in organizing the 2016 WLA conference.”
Last year, the Wyoming Library Association was forced to cancel its annual conference due to library budget cuts across the state that would have devastated attendance. When an idea was put forth to do not just a virtual conference, but a hybrid one with satellite locations to bring librarians together, Karen, along with Chris Van Burgh, volunteered to do the hard work of organizing it. It meant many days locked in a meeting room with a flip chart, creating a WLA conference format that had never been tried, with the landscape shifting day to day.
Amazingly, they pulled it together in a scant six weeks. The conference, offered at no cost to Wyoming librarians, was a tremendous success, drawing more than 175 participants at nine satellite sites.
“Without Karen’s vision, enthusiasm, dedication, and hard work, the 2016 conference would not have happened,” WLA Vice President Katrina Brown wrote in her letter of nomination. “Her commitment to the Wyoming Library Association and the Wyoming library community turned a potential negative, loss of our annual conference, into an amazing positive. WLA and the library community are stronger because of Karen’s dedication and hard work.”
For her many years of exemplary service, for her 2016 conference efforts, and for her leadership example to other librarians across the state, the Wyoming Library Association has given Karen this well-deserved honor.