New library director excited to be a part of community

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, June 2, 2015

NW0602 New Library B

New Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library Director Renita Barksdale wants to see the library become a larger part of the community, while working to be a part of the Elizabethton community herself.

Barksdale started working at the ECCPL May 23 and has begun to familiarize herself with the needs of the community.

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Barksdale had worked with the Greenville (S.C.) County Library System since July 2007. She was branch manager of the Anderson Road library branch for the past three years. She started as a circulation clerk, and was then promoted to team leader. After obtaining her master’s degree in library science and information technology, she was promoted to assistant manager before becoming branch manager a few months later.

Barksdale received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Clemson University, and her master’s degree from the University of North Texas.

Barksdale is looking forward to the opportunity of working in Elizabethton to start the next phase of her career.

“I saw coming here as a new opportunity, a challenge,” Barksdale said. “At my old job, I felt I was in a rut. I was doing what my boss wanted, and I knew the job, but I wanted to do something more.”

The desire to do something more led her to start looking for what jobs were available in the library science field. A quick search showed her the director position was open at the ECCPL.

“I checked out the area, and it seemed wonderful,” she said. “The location is just gorgeous. It seems like there were a lot of activities and things to do. It seemed like a great opportunity for me and Quinton, my husband, to make a new start.”

Being a librarian was not something Barksdale set out to do. She started working in a library part-time in South Carolina while attending law school. Her supervisor pushed for her to apply for a full-time position, and after getting that job found that working in a library was the right choice for her.

“I fell in love,” she said. “I love the patrons and just working in a library. Each day is different. You never know what you will be doing that day. One day you might be helping a kid with their homework, and the next day you can be helping someone find legal papers.”

Working in a small, community library gives Barksdale the chance to really get to know the patrons who visit.

“Being a librarian gives you the chance to really love on a community, and build those relationships,” she said. “At the Anderson Road branch, I knew every patron by name. I knew what they liked to read and I knew how the grandkids were. I want to have the chance to be a part of the community.”

While it is still early in the process, Barksdale hopes to work on increasing patronage at the library and bringing in more technology education classes for the community.

“My goal is to make the library the ‘Third Place’,” she said. “People have work and they have home, and then I want them to have the library. I want them to think they can come to the library to have fun and that they need the library in their community.”

She would also like to work more with non-profit organizations to offer more programing to the community, such as computer classes, financial workshops and job skill classes.

Increasing the use and knowledge of technology is another goal for Barksdale. She wants to work with the library uses to improve their “digital literacy” and to start a “Tech Tuesday” where patrons can bring in their technological devices they have questions about and get help on using them.

Bringing in more teenagers to the library is another goal for Barksdale.

“I want to have tons of teens using the library,” she said. “I would like to start a teen program, or a teen book club.”

Outside of the library, Barksdale likes to explore her creative side and take part in different physical activities. She said she has dabbled with crocheting and likes to go rollerblading, play volleyball and take different exercise classes.

She also wants to be a part of the community by serving on a board or committee, especially one that works with drug or alcohol recovery and helping women gain skills necessary to enter the workforce.