Tracy J. Wright considers herself “very lucky” to work in a town that considers its library to be an important part of the community, one that participates in annual events such as the and the . Whether patrons come by for special programs, movie series, book clubs, workshops or just a few moments of solitude during a busy day, one thing is clear: the library has something for everyone.
“Public libraries represent the best of the new and the old,” Wright said. “The library is still a great place to sit and read a book or newspaper, and it’s also a great place to work on your laptop or use a computer.”
A graduate of the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, Wright also holds a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Public Library Administration from Long Island University. After starting her career – and holding several positions – at the Grinton I. Will Branch of the Yonkers Public Library, Wright joined the Eastchester Public Library as Head of Technical Services, and before long was the Head of Adult Services.
What prompted your decision to become a library director?
I actually waited quite a while and was very happy being a librarian and working with the public. Fortunately I’ve been able to continue with some of my favorite activities like running the library’s Mystery Club and our senior book groups, and I always make an effort to talk to patrons at the many programs we host at the library.
What’s a common misconception people have about libraries?
It’s that they are slow to change. Librarians are among the quickest to embrace new technology, and a perfect example of this is digital books. People think public libraries will be a thing of the past because you can now download books to personal devices such as e-readers, iPods and smartphones. Our local public libraries have been offering free downloadable e-books and audiobooks for years to all cardholders.
What are the some of the most difficult and most rewarding aspects of running a library?
Managing to preserve and even increase the level of service you offer to patrons when budgets are getting tighter and tighter each year. The Library Board of Trustees is very proud of the fact that the library has not reduced hours and has been able to retain services yet we are facing another year of budget cuts.
The most rewarding part of running the library is interacting with library users who enjoy all the services the library offers whether it’s attending a weekday film series, visiting the library for free tax advice from AARP volunteers or enjoying pre-school story time.
If you could change one decision or action you’ve made in your career, what would it be?
I intended to become a school media specialist; I was working in a school library and it seemed like a good idea at the time. While I was in school and started working at the Yonkers Public Library as a Librarian Trainee, it didn’t take much time to discover that I enjoyed working in a public library much more than in a school environment.
What are the three most important things a person needs to be successful?
One of the most important traits you need to be successful as a person or as a librarian is determination. It’s very easy to get sidetracked by obstacles but if you want to achieve something badly enough you need to keep at it.
It’s also important to be able to see the bigger picture. We get caught up in our own world but there are a lot of opportunities out there. You should always be open to new challenges and be willing to take chances. Be able to be positive; a negative attitude only holds you back. I’ve learned that there is very little that happens to you in life that doesn’t teach you something that comes in handy later on.
If you could give advice to someone who wants to enter library science, what would you tell him or her?
Learn as much as you can about all aspects of librarianship. I was trained as a generalist so even though I thought I would be a children’s librarian for my entire career, I also accepted positions as a young adult librarian and a collection development librarian when they were offered to me. When it was time for me to move on, I was comfortable applying for a variety of different library jobs.
What are some key lessons you’ve learned in your profession life that you feel might benefit others?
Keep learning new skills and don’t be afraid to explore new possibilities. Most importantly, choose a career that will bring you personal satisfaction and allow you to be proud of what you do for a living.
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