Library leadership change to be ‘seamless’

The transition at Greenwich Library will be a smooth one as Carol Mahoney, at right, is set to leave as director after five years and turn the reins over to Barbara Ormerod-Glynn, who has been with the library already for 11 years.  —Ken Borsuk

The transition at Greenwich Library will be a smooth one as Carol Mahoney, at right, is set to leave as director after five years and turn the reins over to Barbara Ormerod-Glynn, who has been with the library already for 11 years.
—Ken Borsuk

Change is coming to Greenwich Library and not just in the way patrons can utilize the system. There is also a change in leadership as library director Carol Mahoney is resigning next month to return to Massachusetts.

Ms. Mahoney, a former neighborhood services manager for the Boston Public Library, has been in charge of Greenwich Library and its branches for the last five years, but she will be leaving that role at the end of February. However, a smooth transition is expected because the library’s board of trustees has already made its choice to succeed her — current Deputy Director Barbara Ormerod-Glynn, who already has 11 years of experience at Greenwich Library and Ms. Mahoney’s full endorsement as her successor.

With the library in good hands, Ms. Mahoney says she’s confident she’s making the right decision, even though it wasn’t an easy one because of how much she’s enjoyed her time in Greenwich. She said she wanted to look at other opportunities that will allow her to manage her own time while still participating in “the library world.”

“This was spurred on by 48 years in the library profession,” Ms. Mahoney said. “It was timely for me to head back home to Massachusetts. I felt that I had had a very good five years in Greenwich and accomplished a lot. I want to get back to Massachusetts.”

Ms. Mahoney said she is proud of making sure the library’s strategic plan is in place, not just for how it impacted current operations but for how it provides a road map for future work. The process was developed and implemented under Ms. Mahoney’s tenure and now it’s in year two. She also said she was happy to see the library improve its programming and be able to offer more to the community. Ms. Mahoney said that shows through staff development and staff engagement with the public.

Ms. Ormerod-Glynn will officially take over on March 1 and, while sad to see Ms. Mahoney go, she said she’s eager for the opportunity, especially because of the importance the library has in Greenwich.

“Libraries really do have the potential to transform communities,” Ms. Ormerod-Glynn said. “When we think about the initiatives that came out of our strategic plan and the inspirations that came out of it, we know that early childhood literacy and lifelong learning and digital literacy are key among the things that we support and want to promote. Libraries can make such a difference in people’s lives. There’s a digital divide that’s both economic and generational, and we’re looking forward to renewing and extending our partnerships to make sure we’re connecting with the community and moving forward.”

Now, just as the leadership is being handed off, Greenwich Library is nearing being able to begin implementing the BiblioCommons catalog system. Ms. Mahoney isn’t sure if she will be around for the official launch, but she called the program “very exciting” and is eager to see it have the kind of impact it’s had in other libraries, including Boston. The system is designed to provide a search function for online catalog users similar to what they might find at Google or Amazon.com. The current catalog will remain to help people who are comfortable with it, but Ms. Mahoney said the new catalog will offer many new opportunities.

“It has a lot more flash to it, and we can make sure people know what the newest books are and what’s gotten the best reviews, and it also allows both the librarians and the community to develop book lists on the side,” Ms. Mahoney said. “There’s a big aspect of social media involved in it and it’s meant to engage the Greenwich community and allows us to be engaged as well with the Seattle Library and the Vancouver Library and the New York Public Library… Through this a patron can take control of their own record, what they like and develop a bookshelf for themselves.”

The system will feature a mobile app as well, and Ms. Ormerod-Glynn says the social media aspect of the system can be a great help to people. She said reader reviews of books will be connected through the whole system, allowing people across the country to get to know each other and find lists of books they might be interested in, in categories as wide-ranging as the best children’s books to British mystery novels.

But even with all this online advancement, it’s still the material inside the library that will define it. Ms. Ormerod-Glynn said the new system will be able to better integrate the library’s e-book collection with the rest of the catalog.

“Our greatest asset is our collections, and we want to keep pushing people back into the collections,” Ms. Mahoney said. “This system has a good look to it and there’s a real ease of use to it. We think people using it will find things we have here in our collections they didn’t even know about.”

A lot about libraries has changed, with more reliance on personal electronic devices, and both Ms. Mahoney and Ms. Ormerod-Glynn say Greenwich will continue to change with the times while still offering people what they need from a public library. Ms. Mahoney warned that being on the cutting edge means you can fall off the edge, too, and she said the library has shown that, in the time it took to make sure something like BiblioCommons was right for Greenwich and through the development of the strategic plan, which includes involvement of the staff, the trustees and the community.

“Libraries have been so good at making the adjustments and adapting,” Ms. Mahoney said. “I have to say our readership is huge, and it’s a matter of one person’s taste being books and another’s being e-books and being able to meet both of those needs. The books sitting on the shelves are a very valuable asset, but we’re not just counting on them. Yet there is still a need for kids to come here and do their research, and picture books are picture books. Kids love them and we can offer the books as well as move forward on integrating iPads into story time. There’s a balance there.”

Nancy Better, president of the board of trustees, said she and the other board members were disappointed Ms. Mahoney was leaving but happy to have Ms. Ormerod-Glynn ready to step in.

“Carol came to us with 43 years of public library service in Massachusetts, and we knew that other opportunities closer to home would become available to her,” Ms. Better said. “She has been an exceptional leader who has taken Greenwich Library to new heights, and we expect the momentum will continue under Barbara’s stewardship.”

 

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