November 21, 2017

Leslie Polott | Movers & Shakers 2004

Thinking Big

2004_Leslie_Polott

When Leslie Polott arrived at the Hudson Library and Historical Society in 1996, she recalls, ‘It was nice, but very old-fashioned.’ Polott soon changed that. She headed out into the community to find out what people wanted from their library. After rounds of surveys, focus groups, and town meetings, she knew: a library that was the center of their educational and cultural lives, that provided more opportunities for learning, and that offered a livelier, more responsive collection.

‘I have never met a librarian with as large a vision for a small town’s public library as Leslie,’ says Hudson resident Susan Terkel. Polott partnered with a number of organizations, including the Oberlin College Conservatory, to increase dramatically programming at the library, sometimes holding events on the library’s back lawn. Children received Homework Connection, an after-school tutoring program; KinderMusic, a music enrichment program; and much more. She developed non-English collections, expanded and marketed the book collection, and upped the electronic holdings through ebrary and Classical.com. ‘We don’t have a Borders, and since Leslie came we don’t need one,’ says Terkel.

Polott also credits staff development to improved library services. ‘When I arrived, only two or three [staffers] had an MLS; now we have 14 with the degree,’ Polott says. She worked with her Friends groups to fund scholarships for staff to go for the MLS, and nine have done so.

An attorney, who entered law ‘to help people,’ Polott has found libraries the best vehicle to create social change and ‘reach the broadest possible population,’ she says.

The last two years Polott has been back polling the community about their library needs, fueled by a $50,000 grant from a local foundation. The outcome is a new 50,000 square foot facility that Polott is busy planning. Once again, she’s ‘looking outward for the best ideas to draw people in.’

 


Vitals

 

Current Position: Director, Hudson Library and Historical Society, OH
Degrees: J.D., Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland, 1982; MLS, State University of New York, Albany,1984
Formerly: Both law librarian and a children’s librarian

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