We all know the ways in which a public library contributes to personal learning, growth, and fulfillment. As they have for many of us, libraries played an important role in my childhood. My family moved nearly every year of my life until I got to high school. The library was the place I could go where it didn’t matter that I was the new kid in class, where my clothes weren’t judged and, most importantly, where it was perfectly OK to spend time alone with my nose stuck in a book. However, it is as an adult that libraries have had the most profound impact on me, personally and professionally.
November/December 2015Volume 54, No. 6
Your library is very likely somewhere in the process of conceiving, funding, planning, constructing, or wrapping up a capital project or a large capital program. If you’re wrapping up, you’re probably also dreaming of the next round or series of improvements to at least some buildings.
This pattern describes the capital investment life cycle for libraries. While this cycle occurs with other public facilities, including city halls and community centers, it is perhaps more pronounced with regard to libraries because of fundamental changes occurring in how people use libraries. Libraries across the country are—to use a current term—transforming. Yesterday’s library is fundamentally different from today’s twenty-first-century library. Much of this change is fueled by rapid evolutions in technology, which influence how people access and share information. Increasing digital collections creates the opportunity to rethink spaces once devoted to periodicals and books. Libraries across the country are finding room for more community gathering spaces, study areas, and media centers. Economic and cultural changes are also contributing to the transformation of libraries. During the Great Recession and in this time of a growing economic gap, libraries are playing important roles in skill development, job searching, career advancement, and support for small businesses.
What exactly does a library director do? In 2012, I was a branch manager in the Palm Beach (FL) County Library System (PBCLS). While in this position, I graduated from a county leadership program that inspired me to consider becoming a library director. I had to admit that I did not know what the job fully entailed. So I set about researching the duties and responsibilities of the position, along with identifying the traits that make a great director. I wanted real advice, not just book knowledge. But the question was how to find it?