Posted by Library Director, Curren McLane:
In 2008 I was a student pursuing my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I already had five years of experience working at the University of North Texas Libraries, but I knew my heart lay in public library work. I wanted to spend my career working with everyday people, and have the opportunity to be part of a community. Thus began my search for a new job, which as many of you can attest, is a long and involved process. Around late October of that year I came across a job posting for a Library Assistant II (Adult Services Librarian) at the Azle Public Library. I applied and was thrilled to be granted an interview. At that time the library was still located in the old building on Jacksboro Highway, next to City Hall, and Judy Whitt was still the Director. The interview started off well and I was already hoping I would have the chance to work in Azle—everyone was so friendly and the library was heading in some exciting new directions regarding the collection and technology. But then something amazing happened. Ms. Whitt casually mentioned that a new library building was being built, and gave me directions so I could go drive by the construction site on my way home. This was news to me, so I drove down Main Street and turned onto the long driveway of the new building. My jaw literally dropped! The outside of the building had just been completed, but the interior was still empty. Still—it was love at first sight. I had never seen such an amazing library in a community the size of Azle.
I was asked to come back for a second interview, but by then my mind was already made up. If I was offered the job I would take it—hands down. And, of course, the job was offered. From November to March I was in full training mode. Not only did I have a new job to learn, but we were busy preparing to move into the new building. It was a whirlwind of busy excitement, and I was so thrilled to be a part of it.
The building, which was a private donation from a very generous donor, was finally ready in spring 2009. We only had a week to close the old building and move into the new one. This included moving all the books (while keeping them in order), developing new procedures for work flow, setting up the staff area, and so much more. It was a hectic week, and the staff, along with numerous volunteers, worked tremendously hard. The new library, renamed “Azle Memorial Library”, officially opened on March 30, 2009. The staff knew we would have a lot of visitors come see the new building, but I don’t think we were prepared for just how busy we were going to become. In the first month the library was open, 864 people signed up for new library cards, and the number of items checked out increased by 250 percent! Overall usage doubled over the next several months. As the public continued to discover the new library, it was so uplifting to hear their comments and exclamations about the beautiful new facility.
Nine months flew by, and in December 2009, Judy Whitt decided it was time for her to retire. Judy left big shoes to fill as she had been a part of the Azle Library for over 20 years. When the City of Azle chose me to become the new Library Director, I was honored and proud. In the years since, my love for the Azle Memorial Library and Azle community has grown tremendously. Yes, the library building is fantastic, but it is the people of this community that make this such a special place to work!
This month the Azle Memorial Library is celebrating five years in the new building. I am so excited to invite you to join us on Saturday, March 29th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm for a day of celebration. If you have friends or family who have not been to the library yet, this is the perfect day to bring them along and show them what they have been missing! Please see our monthly newsletter – available in the library or on our website for full event details.
Thank you so much for your support over the past five years. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Azle Memorial Library!