February 17, 2018

Linda Devlin | Movers & Shakers 2007

See Problem, Solve Problem


When a library school professor asked which students wanted to go into administration, Linda Devlin didn’t raise her hand. She changed her mind, though, once she realized how much she ‘enjoyed creative problem-solving and setting a direction for library services.’

As associate director, and now director, of Camden County Library, Devlin has put those skills to work. When the original plan for a computer lab was bogged down by the cost of constructing walls, Devlin instead created a warm, inviting, open area, with comfortable furniture, wireless access, and more computers. Former director Claudia Sumler says Devlin cut the cost of the project while quadrupling the branch’s computing capacity.

Confronted with the possibility that the library might have to close for maintenance, Devlin’s solution for keeping up service was to open Shelf Life, a small, retail-style branch inside a mall. Peter Bromberg of South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative says, ‘Linda laid out her vision to her colleagues and recruited them to start the major work involved in opening a small branch library.’ It opened six weeks later, attracting mall customers who had never used the library. Though Shelf Life has since closed because the mall is being demolished, Devlin says it proved that retail partnerships can work; she looks forward to similar collaborations in the future.

Sumler says that in her 30 years in libraries, she hasn’t met anyone who can match Devlin’s skills and vision. For Devlin, ‘problem’ is just another word for ‘opportunity.’




CURRENT POSITION Director, Camden County Library, NJ

DEGREES MLS, Rutgers University, 1993

CREATIVELY SPEAKING She decorated her office with her own artwork