Cecilia D. Stafford, M.L.S., Retires as Director of Zollinger Library.
September 28, 2021 - After spending a nearly 42-year career in library sciences, Cecilia Stafford, M.L.S., will officially retire on October 1st, 2021, with a legacy of accomplishments that have been impactful to not only UNM-Gallup but to the New Mexico State University (NMSU) branch campus in Grants, Tulane University, and the University of New Orleans.
“I began work at UNM-Gallup’s Zollinger Library on August 1, 2016, after serving as library director at NMSU-Grants for 10 years,” Stafford explained. “I moved to New Mexico from New Orleans in August 2006—one year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region—leaving my position as Associate Dean of Libraries at Tulane University, where I was employed for 21 years.”
Prior to her service at Tulane University, she worked as a public services librarian at the University of New Orleans following three years as a branch manager in the Jefferson Parish Public Library system beginning in July 1979 immediately after receiving a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Alabama.
Her tenure at UNM-Gallup began with immediate impact as she served as library coordinator for the Zollinger Library building expansion project, where Stafford worked with UNM’s main campus architectural and construction planning staff, building contractors, and UNM-Gallup physical plant staff on the library’s expansion and renovation. The expansion, which was funded through a statewide General Obligation (GO) bond, created the lower level of the library specifically for student study areas and expansion of the library collection. “I also helped launch the Book of Giving Tree. Children’s books were collected through donations for distribution to children attending the campus holiday celebration. Library staff gift wrapped the books to hand out to children of all ages and to assist children who created their own ‘Lobos Love Reading’ bookmarks adorned with ‘I Love Reading’ stickers, tassels, and colored pens and crayons,” Stafford said.
She went on to explain that there are a few accomplishments during her time at UNM-Gallup that she is most proud of, including expanding access to electronic databases, journals, and reference sources that support student and faculty research; along with improving off-site access to online resources through use of a proxy server that provides a simple gateway to most library resource using a UNM netID and password.
Stafford was also instrumental in improving the library’s presence on the UNM-Gallup website by adding many useful resources that include a writer and speaker toolkit that provides an open access assignment calculator designed to help students stay on track with their research; online access to the most respected citation manuals and writer guides used at colleges and universities nationwide; and adding links to open access videos that guide students in their preparation of in-person and online presentations.
During the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, she helped design and implement an online appointment system that allowed library staff to provide in-building use of the Zollinger Library, except during periods when McKinley County was locked down. “Even when library use was limited, library staff continued to offer curbside service for pick-up of print materials and WiFi hotspots,” she said.
Stafford also worked with the Faculty Library Committee and Carmen Wellborn, senior Web designer at UNM-Gallup, to create the Experts’ Corner on the library’s webpage. “This resource is designed as a searchable database to connect those on campus who need to consult an expert with those on campus who have the needed skills and research interests,” she proudly adds.
Among Stafford’s awards and accolades, she served as president of the UNM-Gallup Faculty Assembly for the 2018-2019 academic year and was selected as the Academic Librarian of the Year in 2019-2020 by the New Mexico Consortium of Academic Libraries (NMCAL). This prestigious award is given annually to a member of NMCAL in recognition of significant accomplishments in academic librarianship.
Now that retirement is soon on the horizon for Stafford, she plans to continue to reside in Gallup with her husband of 35 years. “My plans include growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables on our half-acre downtown property,” she explained. “We’ll make frequent trips and have overnight stays at our log cabin in the Zuni Mountains; take camping and sight-seeing trips throughout the Four Corners in our pop-top camper van; and I will dabble in creating Southwestern and mountain-themed stained-glass panels and sun catchers to sell at art and flea markets throughout the region.”
The UNM-Gallup community certainly wishes Stafford well during her retirement years and thanks her for the positive impact she’s had on our library and campus—and the long-lasting legacy she leaves behind as Stafford enters this new and exciting next phase of her life.
Lee Lamb, Sr. Public Relations Specialist