Library News

Sophia Zarifis-Russell Returns to the Library

Sophia at YCVV

While it is said that “you can’t go home again,” this is definitely not true for the Library’s returning employee Sophia Zarifis-Russell. For her, returning to Sedona Public Library was like riding a bicycle. She never forgot. “I am so excited to be back in this new role,” she said, and we are glad to have her as our new Assistant Director.

In Sophia’s first tenure at Sedona Public Library several years ago, she worked as a reference assistant helping at both the reference and circulation desks. In addition to helping patrons, Sophia created a fun atmosphere for our users and staff with several initiatives. She helped develop the Adult Summer Reading program and the now annual Spooktacular. She also implemented basic computer skills classes.

Now that she has returned, there is a rumor that the Library may revive the Dewey Decibels, the dance group that once upon a time launched the Summer Reading Program. Stay tuned.

In the midst of all that work, Sophia earned her MLIS degree (Masters in Library and Information Science). She was a proud recipient of a Sedona Women’s scholarship for professional women returning to school, and the Library was glad to celebrate this award and her new degree.

With her new degree in hand, Sophia took a job as Library Manager for Yavapai College Verde Valley. She loved overseeing that library, especially working in collection development. One of her favorite activities was opening the boxes of new books and other library materials that she had ordered. “It was always Christmas time at the library.”

Back at Sedona Public Library as the Assistant Director, she will again develop the collection along with many other tasks. Sophia stays busy with policy development, procedure implementation, and, of course, working with patrons.

“Currently I oversee the daily operations,” she explained. “Which includes, staff, reference, circulation, and just managing the ebb and flow of the library.”

Sophia abides by the ethics of librarianship and is happy to work with staff and leadership as we move toward being a 21st-century library. “Libraries play an important role as community centers, always maintaining neutrality and being non-partisan,” she said.

There is a misconception that librarians read a lot of books, and to this, Sophia says. “I don’t have time to read books!” She adds, laughing, “But I do get to purchase them.”

And now onto the somewhat random, but nonetheless interesting, questions we ask of all our library staff that we introduce them to you.

Where were you born? I was born in Encino, California, and I lived in Southern California until I was 15 when my family moved to Northern California – to the World’s Egg Basket, Petaluma, where I graduated from high school. Although I loved Sonoma County, I moved to Quebec when I married and lived there for 15 years raising my six children. I came back to the U.S. in 2002 and landed in Cottonwood, Arizona where I’ve been ever since.

What was your first job?  My first job was for the Fireman’s’ Fund in Petaluma. I worked in the laboratory where I washed the glassware and processed incoming mail. I made $3.25 an hour and really thought that was a lot of money.

What book most influenced you and why? There are two things that come to mind: The Bible is a favorite for its life lessons, and on a lighter and secular note, I really enjoy Nelson DeMille. I particularly like his John Corey character because of his snarky NYPD attitude. He makes me laugh out loud, and I wish I could emulate his smart-aleck one-liners, but I’d probably get fired.

Are you on Team Dog or Team Cat and why?  Neither, but I have “engaged” two cats who are very good at catching mice. I really don’t have the energy to enjoy pets. I have six children and five grandchildren to date, and they keep me busy.

Have you ever seen a ghost or a UFO ? No, although I have felt the presence of a dear loved one who passed.

What else would you like others to know about you? I am of Greek descent, and I love to learn the language. I can’t wait to go back to Greece with Anne Marie (we traveled to Greece together last summer). My dream job would be one where I only had to work nine months a year, and then I would live on a Greek island for the other three months.

As published in the Red Rock News
Library News Column for July 1, 2022  
Written by Anne Marie Mackler, Development Director


Library News appears each Friday here and in the Red Rock News.