November 24, 2017

Maria Redburn | Movers & Shakers 2008

Grace Under Pressure

Becoming manager of the Bedford Public Library, which had closed briefly in 2005, was a risky career move for Maria Redburn: city council members were considering outsourcing it to LSSI. But as a Bedford resident who had always dreamed of living and working in the same community and making a difference for her neighbors, she took on the challenge of restoring library service.

Redburn says the library’s closure “motivated the entire staff to provide a first-rate library.” Brainstorming with staff, within a few short months after taking the job in January 2006, she managed to open the library seven days a week, add free wireless access, and make the building and policies more customer-friendly.

Residents enthused over what she’d done. More than 1600 people signed a petition against outsourcing the facility, and city council meetings were packed with library supporters. One citizen begged, “Please don’t move our soul to Maryland!” (LSSI is headquartered in Germantown, MD.)

Redburn remained unflappable throughout. Understanding that “our city council has a fiduciary responsibility to explore cost-saving measures,” she simply made a competitive proposal. Local resident Raymond Peters says her “forward-looking and thorough business plan” convinced the council that “quality of service would be reduced if the library were outsourced.” The council voted to keep local control—and authorized bonds for a new library more than double the original size.

Redburn believes librarians must articulate their value in business terms: provide a library business plan, cost-benefit analysis of services, quantifiable data on user satisfaction, and information about the return on investment for every tax dollar.

And they must create libraries people love, she says. “If we provide excellent services, the communities we serve will be there when we need them.”

Vitals

CURRENT POSITION Manager, Bedford Public Library, TX

DEGREE MLIS, Florida State University, 1992

TWICE BLESSED Became the mother of twins in 2006

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