Project Team

Southern Tier Library System (STLS), a cooperative public library system serving five counties in south western New York state, serves as the lead agency and home to Rural Library Service & Social Wellbeing. For more information on STLS research, education, and development initiatives, visit

Margo Gustina – Principal Investigator. Margo is the Special Projects Librarian for the Southern Tier Library System. In their former role as the New York Library Association Rural Libraries Roundtable President, Margo became deeply concerned with the ways in which those with regulatory and policy development power disregarded the unique strengths of small communities. Margo brings a passionate and honest curiosity to the data in this and all projects. For more about Margo’s other projects, visit

Hope Decker. Hope works for project partner institution Pioneer Library System (NY) as Member Library Liaison. Her passion for small and rural libraries began with a decade long tenure as a rural director. The support and guidance she received from her colleagues nationwide during her work bringing her library from 800 to 20,000 square feet inspired her long standing service to the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.  As a member of the research team, she interviewed over a hundred community members, is a practiced listener and facilitator, and guides our instructional ambitions. Connect with Hope through LinkedIn.

Eli Guinnee. The State Librarian of New Mexico, Eli appreciates the cultural vitality and richness of even the most remote communities. His research interests include regenerative design and development, and formal and informal community computation systems. His current projects include the Indigenous Digital Archives, Libraries as Launchpads, Communities+Libraries, and the New Mexico Poet Laureate Program & Poetry Center. Visit the New Mexico State Library for more on his work.

Rick Bonney – Retired director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Public Engagement in Science Program and founding editor of the journal Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, Rick Bonney has guided the the Rural Library Service & Social Wellbeing project through each of the team’s most pivotal methodological decisions. Now a Visiting Scholar at Cornell, Rick serves as a methodology and assessment consultant to numerous projects around the world.

Bharat Mehra – Any review of the literature in rural librarianship over the last decade is filled with Bharat Mehra’s name and ideas. Currently the EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice and Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama, Bharat’s work has influenced the attention the field gives the social diversity and complexity of the rural south, and enriched the discussion beyond digital connectivity. He has served as principal investigator on several funded projects supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for more than a million dollars to further community development and economic growth in rural libraries of the Southern and Central Appalachian region.

Madeline Pena – Madeline Peña is a passionate public librarian who works as Digital Content Manager at the Los Angeles Public Library. She comes from a background in graphic design, marketing, and TV production and has worked in public libraries for over 10 years. An active member of REFORMA, The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, she served as 2018-2019 President and was the recipient of the 2015 REFORMA Dr. Arnulfo D. Trejo Librarian of the Year (LOTY) Award. In her work on the Advisory Board, she has reinforced the importance of human dignity in research in project design.

Cynthia Nikitin – Cynthia is the Senior Vice-President Project for Public Places. Part of the founding group of planners, designers, and architects at Project for Public Spaces, Cynthia has a special passion for the social fabric and organizational structures in rural communities.

Meredith Wickham – Director of First Regional Library System (MS), Meredith Wickham has brought expertise from southern rural public librarianship, which has positively impacted the inclusivity of the project’s research methodology.

Local Library Partners

Emilie Braunel – Plum Lake Public Library, Sayner, Wisconsin. Emilie has been the library director since January 2017. Before the start of her library career, she was a teacher in Minnesota and Nevada and a program coordinator for a non-profit organization in Wisconsin that helps families navigate the special education system. Emilie serves as board president of the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health and as a parent representative on the Northland Pines Charter Governance Board.

Pam Brown – State Line Public Library, Pine Forest Library System, Mississippi. Being a branch manager gives Pam her two great loves: reading and community. She loves children! Being able to provide them with a safe, fun, educational place is her goal. Pam is also an active member of the State Line Volunteer Fire Department and currently serves as their assistant secretary. Pam has 2 children, 6 grandchildren, 3 dogs, and a cat.

Jerianne Davis – Helveltia Public Library, Helvetia, West Virginia. Jerianne worked as a Section 8 housing manager and for the postal service, many years before changing careers to Library Director.  Her fondest memory as a child was going to the library to check out books and movies, so getting to have this career path has been very close to a dream.  She is extremely active in her community and has had many different positions within community organizations, such as the Helvetia Restoration and Development Committee, and the Helvetia Fair Director Board.  She is currently serving as Vice President for the Helvetia Farm Women’s Club. 

Tonya Delphous – Elk River Public Library District, Elk River, Idaho. Tonya has only been with the Elk River Library for a little over a year and a half.  Never having worked in a library, was quick to learn the ins and outs by partnering with those who have including the ICFL and several more.  She has been vested in this community since 2004 and is very glad to share her experiences and partnerships with the Library to see continued growth for many years to come!

Susan Greene – Jaquith Public Library, Marshfield, Vermont. Susan Green has lived in Vermont since 1971. Susan has been director of the Jaquith Public Library since September 2009 but she has worn many hats before her venture in library work. She loves to garden vegetables, flowers and herbs, take walks in the woods and on country roads, swim in lakes, read (of course), do art with people of all ages and hang out with her kids and grand kids.

Kate Kozior – Clifton Community Library, Cranberry Lake, New York. Kate Kosior is the library director at Clifton Community Library, her hometown library, where she returned after 20 years away.  She has greatly enjoyed bringing the library to the community in the past several years through initiatives like poverty-relief story time.  This year, she is working on ‘adulting’ classes for teens, and is a fellow with the Northern New York Library Network’s Networking Cohort, where she has teamed up with local senior citizens to develop a yet-to-be-decided project to improve the community.

Chelsea Price – Meservey Public Library, Meservey, Iowa. Chelsea’s favorite part of her job is programming and working with the community to help Meservey thrive and grow. Since she started as director in 2015, program attendance numbers have more than tripled, and she hopes they will continue to increase. When not at the library, she loves pet sitting and volunteering at various animal shelters around the state.

Rick Styre – Elk River Public Library District, Elk River, Idaho. Rick has been with the Elk River Library for over 10 years…. He started out as grounds and maintenance and is now Part of the Director Team, He is the IT Tech, handles all of the Kids activities and is still responsible for grounds and maintenance…. When you live in a small town you wear many hats! Ricks dedication to the kids in this town is phenomenal! We are so glad to have him here at our community library!

Isabel Trujillo – El Pueblo de Abiquiu Cultural Center and Library, Abiquiu, New Mexico. Isabel War Trujillo has lived in Abiquiu, NM all her life.  She has been the Director, Grant Writer and Administrator for El Pueblo de Abiquiu Library & Cultural Center for nearly 20 years. Her outreach on the topic of Genizaros has become the subject of recent new books which make awareness of Indian slavery and captivity.  She has always been active in her community and believes all local youth should “take charge” of their environment. All Isabel’s projects have an emphasis on youth development partnerships.