April 19, 2018

Elizabeth Gale Greenlee | Movers & Shakers 2004


The Middle of Everywhere


Ask Elizabeth Gale Greenlee why she loves working at Greensboro Public Library’s Glenwood facility and she’ll tell you. ‘I feel like I’m in the middle of everywhere, because so many people from so many cultures move, breathe, live, and learn in this place,’ she says. She’s met Greensboro residents from 123 cultures, who speak 82 different languages. As Greensboro Public Library’s Multicultural Services Coordinator, it’s her responsibility to provide a welcoming space.

Greenlee has trained for this job all her life. Growing up in Greensboro, she was a devoted library user and a volunteer in her school library. She also fell in love with the French language and dreamed of someday traveling the world, exploring other cultures.

Which is exactly what she did. While studying journalism, she spent one semester in Martinique. Later she took a certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages and taught English in a high school in Lyon, France. She has worked with Somalian refugee children in Atlanta, did public relations work for the Peace Corps and CARE, and lived with a Senegalese family in Dakar while studying the Wolof language.

Greenlee manages the library’s English for Speakers of Other Languages program, coordinates bilingual story hours, selects material in 25 languages, and creates programs like Caribbean Day. As cochair of Greensboro’s Multicultural Advisory Coalition, she recently produced a television series, ‘Around the World in Greensboro,’ which features interviews, cultural performances, and immigrants’ coming-to-America stories.

Her colleague Karen Favreau describes Greenlee as ‘passionate’ about social justice, about giving a voice to populations that are often silenced, and about the power of libraries to change lives.

Greenlee quotes Joy Harjo: ‘As long as there is respect and acknowledgment of connections, things continue working. When that stops, we all die.’ She adds, ‘My library work is doing my part to build connections and keep things working.’




Current Position: Multicultural Services Coordinator, Greensboro Public Library, NC
Education: M.A., Africana Women’s Studies, Clark Atlanta University, 1996
Professional Activity: Chair, North Carolina Library Association’s Literacy Roundtable
Honors : Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship