Amy Whitney, Urbana Regional Library branch administrator, will transfer to the Thurmont Library sometime this summer. The Friends of the Urbana Library invite you to a reception in her honor on Thursday, June 28, 5 to 7 p.m. in the Urbana Library’s lower level community room.
Whitney has been the Urbana Regional Library branch administrator since June 2011 and has seen the community—and library—grow. She was kind to answer our questions and reflect on her time in Urbana.
Q: How many libraries have you worked at in the FCPL system?
A: I’ve worked at all of them! In my early years with FCPL, I was a Library Associate Substitute, so I could be assigned to any branch, The Maryland Room, and the Bookmobile. As a result, I worked all over the county. This experience gave me a great understanding of how the branches work as a system, and an appreciation for the unique character of each library’s surrounding community. All really good experience to have if you are going to be a Branch Administrator!
Q: Have you worked at libraries in other systems?
A: My first job was as a circulation clerk in Newport News, Virginia, in the early 1990s shortly before we moved to Maryland.
Q: I know that you started as a library associate at the Thurmont Library in 1999. What are you looking forward to as you return to the Thurmont Library?
A: I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to serve my home community again. There is a deeper understanding of the community and its needs when you live in the town where you work! There are so many more opportunities to talk to your patrons because you see folks at the grocery store, when you’re out on a walk, shopping at the local businesses, or eating at the restaurants. You really get to know your community on a different level—I’m really looking forward to that. And as a bonus, I’ll be able to walk to work, which will be a welcome change after so many years of rush hour traffic on Rt. 270!
Q: What will you miss about the Urbana Library?
A: Oh, so much! The staff at Urbana are amazing, hardworking, and creative—they really care about providing great service to our patrons, so they made my job easy.
And the Urbana community is so vibrant—so many interesting people from all over the world living happily as neighbors. I love working at the desk, and hearing so many different languages as parents chat with their kids or read to them. And this is a community that really uses the library—at any hour of the day, there are many adults upstairs studying, high school and college students doing homework or research, toddlers playing in the World Market, or young families attending storytime.
And lastly, I will miss the truly wonderful Friends of the Urbana Regional Library, or “FURL.” They are the nicest, most dedicated, and caring people. Their hard work over many years has provided the library with so many enhancements and so much financial support—they are the unsung heroes of the library! I encourage your readers to consider joining or supporting the Friends. They do great work!
Q: What did you enjoy most during your time in this position?
A: All the fun programs and festivals the library has provided over the years: The Music Festival, Starlight Family Film Festival, Lunar New Year, Joyful Jingles, etc. It’s such a good feeling to see months of planning culminate in an event where the whole community comes together to have fun, relax, and connect with each other.
Q: Today’s libraries offer so much more than books and other media. How do you think libraries create community? How has the Urbana Library created community in a rapidly growing area?
A: What a great question! FCPL’s mission is to connect people to ideas and to each other, to foster individual and community growth. We have made it part of our mission to get out into the community to promote the library’s services, so we show up at community events, school functions, church luncheons, places where folks don’t necessarily expect to see the library. Last year, we even set up at the Urbana Park and Ride lot for several days during morning and afternoon rush hour to talk to commuters about the library! We also hold some programming off site, such as the Starlight Family Film Festival. That’s a great example of bringing together lots of community partners, and having an event where our patrons and their customers are all invited to share an evening of family fun under the stars. This is not a traditional library service, or what people might expect from the library, but it’s a tremendous opportunity to change people’s perceptions about the role of the library in building community and giving people the chance to meet each other and learn from each other. We’ve also changed how we offer programming in order to accommodate larger crowds with our limited meeting room space, and we’ve done away with registration for almost all our programming, so people have more access to our services. And of course, we offer a whole multitude of e-books, magazines, movies, music, and audiobooks through our website at www.fcpl.org.