Nancy Handy, Assistant Director of Mooresville Public Library, North Carolina worked in public libraries for past 17 years. She received her MLIS from Queens College in Flushing, NY and was a Children’s Librarian in NY for 12 years before moving to NC to be the Head of Children’s Dept. for 5 years.before transitioning to the Assistant Director of the Mooresville Public Library.
Q: Why did you decide to enter the field of library and information science? OR What motivated you to seek a library degree?
NH: My undergraduate is in Elementary Education. I always knew I wanted to work in libraries. I’ve loved books and libraries ever since I was a little girl. My decision was whether to go into school libraries or public. I chose public libraries.
Q: What surprises you most about your work?
NH: The thing that surprises me most about my work is the constant change. People thought that libraries would no longer be relevant in the digital age. That is so far from the truth. Libraries are needed more than ever. They are the portals to information beyond actual walls. The internet is filled with tons of information. It is the forte of the librarian to decipher and find the valid and authentic information. The library I work in sees 1000 citizens a day walk through our doors. These faces change daily, the information they are looking for changes, their needs and wishes change daily. The library is much more than an archive of books. It’s a place for children to attend storytimes, a student to study for their GED, a homeschooler to check out learning material, a meeting place for seniors, a Pokemon stop for teens, a bridge between the digital divide. My job changes daily, but it’s relevance is never questioned!
Q: What are you responsible for at the library?
NH: My responsibilities: Assists Library Director in the management, supervision, and administration of the library to provide maximum services to the library patron in accordance with library policy. Performs managerial duties and oversees all aspects of the Adult and Youth Services Departments. Directs the library in the absence of the Director.
Q: When is the library busiest?
NH: The library seems to be busiest in the summer; however, it is a busy place year round. Summer brings lots of patrons in for the summer reading program, beach reads, and as a pleasant escape sometime from the heat. In any given day, we have 1000 people walk through our doors and have seen upwards of 1500 in one day!
Q: What were the last 3 books you read?
NH: The last three books I’ve read: Every 15 Minutes by Lisa Scottoline; I re-read the classic A Separate Peace by John Knowles (one of my favorites) and I’m currently reading Different Seasons by Stephen King (a collection of four novellas).
Q: How many events do you have at the library?
NH:Before I was Assistant Director I was the Head of Youth Services. My experience is strong in library programming. We currently have 30-40 children’s programs offered each month. We’re currently increasing our programming for Adults and have recently added a new book club, an adult coloring club (new trend) and a program for adults with special needs. We have a full calendar of events offered each month and it’s only growing.
Q: If you have author readings, what is your best advice to them for a successful event?
NH: Yes, we have had local author showcases and have had local authors come to share their new book. The biggest advice I can give is to make sure you market for the event. The library will advertise in-house and electronically on our website and social media, but if the author also advertises the event is sure to have a greater turnout. I like events to draw the most interest they possibly can, especially for an author who is just starting out.
Q: How many new books does the library get per year?
NH: That’s a number I would need to look up, however I can tell you it’s thousands! We order consistently and year round all books are processed through technical services. We review professional journals, bestseller lists, and will honor most patron requests.
Q: Does the library carry self-published books?
NH: Yes, I have personally ordered self published books that were written by local authors.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception about being a librarian?
NH: Haha, seriously that we wear our hair in a bun and our glasses on a chain and that we read all day. I cannot tell you how many people still have a stereotyped notion of who librarians are. Sometimes, it is hard to find the time to even review a good book let alone read it at work. Our day is filled with various duties and we wear many hats (librarian, teacher, psychologist, event organizer/planner, boss, author, facility maintenance employee etc.) Librarians are modern-day information specialists who must know their community and the needs and interests of the citizens.
Q: How influential are librarians over book choice for young readers?
NH: If the librarian is engaging and is well versed in reader’s advisory they can be very influential. It’s best to know great books from all of the genres and a few gripping must reads for the reluctant reader. Know your books for the sports fan, the fantasy guru, the graphic novel reader, dystopian reads, classics and sci-fi to name a few. Never let a child who asks for good book suggestions walk out empty-handed!
If you enjoyed Nancy’s interview, you may also like to read my interviews with Tricia Skinner, Sarah Davies, Alan Gratz, Lisa Mantchev, Monica Hoffman, Betsy Thorpe, Karen McManus and Nicole Ayers.