November 17, 2017

J. Drusilla Carter | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Community Builders

J. Drusilla Carter, Chesterfield County Library System, SCLibrary as Hub

When J. Drusilla Carter walked into the five-branch Chesterfield County Library (CCL) in 2006, she was the rural library system’s fifth director in as many years.

Her 45,000 constituents, spread out over 745 square miles in the northern part of the state, have diverse needs and backgrounds: many have low income and education levels; some lack electricity or running water in their homes; many are recent immigrants with limited English skills. As a first-time public library director, Carter saw the potential for community building—and imagined CCL at the center of it.

Nearly three years later, CCL has a range of new offerings for patrons, including movie nights for teens, Spanish-language children’s books, and reference services for prison inmates. One branch has been refurbished, with two more renovations in the works. Library use is up, but Carter is most proud of the community bonds. Most notably, CCL has partnered with First Steps, which prepares pre-K children to enter school. Other programs aimed at early childhood education have found a home at CCL branches, which also serve as dropoff points for First Steps materials. Carter also sits on the First Steps board.

“I am incredibly fortunate to have a phenomenal staff who are willing to support most of [my ideas] and come up with creative [ones] of their own,” Carter says. “Coming up with new ways to do things without spending any money is a constant challenge, but it’s one that we can have a lot of fun doing.”

Carter’s belief in library-as-community-hub extends into overhauling the traditional notion of a library. “I hope we finally lose the attitude that ‘a library is a place where you go to check out books.’ In our current information landscape, limiting ourselves to one way of sharing information is all but inviting…obsolescence,” she says. “Once we…reimagine ourselves as people who gather, organize, and disseminate information in any form, we will be prepared to keep ourselves around, in one form or another, for another thousand years.”

Vitals

Chesterfield County Library System, SC

POSITION Director

DEGREE MLIS, University of South Carolina, Columbia, 2005

DRIVING FORCE Webmaster/newsletter editor, Blue Ridge Packards (antique auto enthusiasts club)

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