NORTH TONAWANDA – Britt White has always wanted to head her own library. Now she is getting her chance.
Friends of the North Tonawanda Library will welcome the library’s new director at 7 p.m. Monday in the library, 505 Meadow Drive. The public is invited to meet and greet White, enjoy refreshments and share their thoughts.
White took over the top spot in mid-August from longtime director Margaret “Peggy” Waite, who retired after 33 years of service. White said she spent three weeks working with Waite, started on her own in September and has been “settling in” working on activities and budgets.
“Like they say in some businesses and organizations – that was like my soft opening. Monday will be my grand opening,” White said of her formal introduction to the community.
White, 44, resides in Buffalo with her husband, Adam, and they have one adult son, Robert, who lives in the Pittsburgh area.
She comes to North Tonawanda with 13 years of experience as a librarian and what she calls “a passion for public library service.” She worked for 11 years for the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library in a variety of departments and had been a branch manager. She was the librarian at Buffalo Seminary from 2011 to 2013 and since 2009 also has been an adjunct instructor in the University at Buffalo’s School of Library and Information Studies.
She said heading her own library is her dream job.
“When I worked for Buffalo & Erie County, I got to try a lot of things and find out what my fortés were, and it gave me a lot of good experience that I brought here to North Tonawanda,” she said. “But definitely, I think for many librarians, you get your own ideas, and you develop a passion and want to take it as far as you possibly can. To have the opportunity to work in such a fantastic community with such a great library and staff and board to try out some ideas I’ve had incubating for a long time is really exciting for me. I can’t even tell you.”
She said she already has found support from the library board of trustees and a very active friends of the library group, as well as a large number of regular, active library users.
”The community is really supportive of the library,” White said. “We get tons of people in here every day. People come in here to get materials, but they also come in to chitchat with our staff members and to chitchat with each other, and to come and relax and read our magazines and newspapers. There’s people in here getting tutoring and using our computers. So it’s a really heavily used library.”
She said the library recently launched Zinio, which allows patrons to digitally download copies of magazines onto their mobile devices and keep them forever. And she said she is always on the lookout for new and interesting programs and presentations.
But she stressed that it’s not all about making huge changes.
“There’s a lot of people for whom the library is a place to come for a sense of community, and there are people who come in every day, a couple of times a week, once a week, and it’s part of their regular routine,” White said. “So for us to assume that people no longer physically want to come to a library building would really be incorrect.”
She said programing and activities at the North Tonawanda Library are already very strong, but in 2014 she hopes to “take it to the next level” by thinking outside the box and running with new ideas that staff comes up with.
She said everybody, from the staff to the board to the friends, has the same goal – “to do everything possible to provide an outstanding library experience for our people.”
“We are always working on meeting our patrons’ needs and anticipating these needs. In my experience, the people who think libraries are dying are the people who don’t ever come into a library,” she said.