April 25, 2018

Corinne Hill | Movers & Shakers 2004

Service with Style


Although a librarian for only eight years, Corinne Hill is already known in Dallas and Denton, TX, for turning dull, little-used branches into vibrant community centers.

A stylish woman with a zest for shopping, Hill loves developing new collections and showing them off. She sees no reason why a library should not be as attractive as any good store, with a collection that looks fresh. A shabby-looking collection on overstuffed shelves produces one response: ‘Weed!’ This ‘can really freak out the staff and the community if you aren’t judicious in the beginning,’ she admits. So she spends the first three months on the job getting to know her users.

Then Hill starts spending ‘a nice chunk of change’ to sprinkle lots of new titles in targeted areas so that it’s immediately obvious the library is keeping current. She doesn’t ditch the classics, but she does replace unappealing, worn-down copies with shiny new ones. She takes special pleasure in ‘merchandising the collection, moving collections to see if they’ll circulate better in a different location.’ As a result, says Sian Brannon, a Denton Public Library adult services librarian, the library is now sprinkled with ‘funky, contemporary, streamlined service points and collections.’

Hill has built collections in world languages and gay and lesbian literature to meet the needs of underserved local populations. Brannon says that Hill ‘turned a dreary tiny building crammed with books into a hip, clean community place, by balancing core collections with current popular titles and welcoming patrons of other nationalities and cultures.’

While Hill revels in constant change in technology, collections, and facilities, she realizes that rapid change can ruffle feathers. She’s up-front when people complain about the new collections she’s adding and the outreach to new segments of the community. ‘It’s the community’s library, and we represent everyone. I believe people who are literate in their native language are far more likely to learn English. To those who complain that ‘they should just learn English,’ I say that by buying materials in other languages, we are helping them do just that.’

Hill says she’s always been a big-picture thinker, and management not only lets her plan, forecast, and envision the library’s future, it gives her the authority and the funding to carry out her visions. She feels an obligation to share her experiences with the wider library community and has been an active member and event planner in the Texas Library Association, REFORMA, and the American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association.

Though she was born in Newfoundland and grew up in Miami, FL (where she met and married a fellow Canadian), Hill has become an enthusiastic Texan. She loves Denton, where she serves in the Rotary Club and other community organizations, including her alma mater, the University of North Texas.

Hill says her zest for living ‘expresses itself in world travel and shoes.’ She is working her way through the countries of the world, ‘perfecting the a-b-c fundamentals of travel: art, beaches, and cathedrals.’

This is all to the good. The libraries Hill has directed have benefited from her wide-openness to new cultures and ideas, as has the profession. As Brannon says, ‘She takes the general stereotype of librarian and tosses it in the wastebasket.’




Current Position: Manager, Denton South Branch Library, TX
Degree: M.S., University of North Texas, 1995
Who Knew?: As an undergrad, she researched and published in the area of exercise physiology