New Castle News

November 2, 2012

Library’s director announces retirement

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The search is on for a new director of the New Castle Public Library.

After 15 years in that role, Susan Walls has submitted her retirement, effective Jan. 4.

Walls stepped into the post Feb. 1, 1997, arriving from Welch, W.Va., and during her tenure, saw various changes take place. Among those was the switch from card catalogs to a statewide computerized system.

Under her watch, money was obtained to change the appearance of the library’s first floor.

The first step into the facility makes a lasting impression and Walls was responsible for providing a welcoming atmosphere, said Susan Morgan, public relations/circulation manager.

“She added touches to make it warm and cozy,” Morgan explained.

With funds received, lighting and carpeting was installed, and new furniture was purchased, Walls noted.

“It was kind of stuffy looking before” she said, “and we wanted to make it more inviting.”

Artifacts were taken from the history room and put on display on the main floor, she added. An electric fireplace and wooden blinds also helped provide the appearance of a living room.

“It was a big project and took several years to put together.”

All together, there are more than 20 computers throughout the building and when she began, there were no public-access computers

The eight computers out front are always in use, said Don Nicolls, president of the library board.

The director “had a vision of where we needed to be and she is to be commended for that great vision and the great job she has done,” Nicolls said. “We always need to ask ourselves where the library is going and keep pace with advances.”

Technology also changed, which meant Walls saw videotapes and cassettes replaced by DVDs.

Along with the late Evelyn Marburger, she assisted in the establishment of The Book Cellar with the Friends of the Library. The used book store is run by volunteers from the friends group.

Walls also obtained funding to get the bookmobile back on the road and it has continuously covered all corners of Lawrence County, making more than 20 stops.

And an unexpected visitor showed up one day who soon became the library’s official mascot — Stacks, the cat.

“People have come in just to see Stacks,” she joked.

Walls has found it rewarding to meet people who travel from other states to use the library’s genealogy room.

“I love this area.”

The Mount Jackson resident plans to spend more time with her grandchildren, working on pottery and painting. And of course, reading will take high priority.

“The library keeps reinventing itself,” she said. “It’s not just books, but a community.”

Although it would please Nicolls to have someone in place on Jan. 5, he said he realizes it may take time to find a candidate with the proper qualifications, which includes having five years experience as administrator in a public library. The board has been advertising for the director’s position.

“I enjoyed her administration, which was done with compassion, and her knowledge of the library. She fulfilled what a library director should do. I’m going to miss her.”