Sussex County welcomes new Department of Libraries director
Georgetown, Del., June 7, 2011: Sussex County has a new head librarian for the first time in more than a quarter century.
Kathy M. Graybeal began work in late May as director of the County’s Department of Libraries, succeeding Carol H. Fitzgerald, who is retiring this month after 25 years of service to the County. As director, Ms. Graybeal will supervise a 43-member staff and the administration of three County-owned libraries and the County Bookmobile. She will also coordinate with the staff and directors of 11 independent community libraries, which rely on the County Department of Libraries for technical support and nearly $2 million in annual funding.
Ms. Graybeal comes to the County from the Delaware Division of Libraries, where she served as an administrative librarian for professional development of library staff across the state. Ms. Graybeal has more than two decades of experience working in libraries, starting as a part-time staff member at the Lewes Public Library where she eventually rose to assistant director before taking a position at the State.
County Administrator David B. Baker introduced Ms. Graybeal to County Council during the Council’s regular meeting Tuesday, June 7.
Ms. Graybeal said the public is increasingly turning to libraries as a resource in the down economy, whether that is to look for employment, seek job training, or to save on entertainment costs. Among her goals as the new director is to strengthen the libraries’ presence and role in the community, and seek out funding opportunities – such as the recent $1 million award to the state from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – to keep libraries relevant for a 21st century audience.
“I want Sussex County libraries to be the first place people think of when they need a question answered, if they want to expand their minds, or they want to be entertained,” Ms. Graybeal said. “Libraries can be the intellectual and cultural center of a community, and Sussex County is fortunate to have so much knowledge readily available to its citizens.”
Mr. Baker said the County will benefit from Ms. Graybeal’s years of experience, and expects the transition will be a smooth one as Ms. Graybeal and Ms. Fitzgerald share similar backgrounds. Both worked in smaller, independent libraries in the county prior to becoming County directors, and they are familiar with library operations as well as with the needs of local residents and seasonal visitors.
“Kathy knows library services inside and out, from working at the front counter and sorting books to managing staff and writing an annual budget,” Mr. Baker said. “I am confident her practical experience, her education and her friendly personality will make a great addition to the Department of Libraries and the entire library system here in Sussex County.”
Mr. Baker also praised the retiring Ms. Fitzgerald, saying her leadership was pivotal in a number of projects, including the renovations of both the South Coastal and Milton libraries, as well as the implementation of a computer network linking all libraries in Sussex County. “Carol has been a driving and reliable force in making our library system top-notch,” Mr. Baker said.
Ms. Graybeal holds a master’s degree in library science and information resource from the University of Arizona, and a bachelor’s of science degree in sociology from Frostburg State University. She and her husband, James, live near Milton and are the parents of three grown children.