By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
In July of this year, Gadsden Public Library Director Amanda Jackson left the library after 12 years as director. At the Gadsden City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 13, Mayor Sherman Guyton announced that Craig Scott, appropriately nicknamed ‘Library Guy,’ was the new director of the Gadsden Public Library.
“We’re so pleased to be able to promote Craig,” said Guyton. “We love to recognize employees who have done a great job and to promote them. We’re excited that Craig has taken the helm at the Gadsden Public Library and we’re confident that he’ll do a great job.”
Originally from Michigan, Scott got his start in libraries at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where he worked at the campus library as an undergraduate student. Upon graduating with a degree to teach history, he had a difficult time finding available jobs, so he returned to school to obtain his Master’s in Library Science. Scott went on to work in the publishing world with McGraw Hill for 26 years. After leaving publishing while stationed in Birmingham, a friend led him to the Gadsden community, where he found work as a librarian at the Gadsden Public Library and stayed for 12 years. Scott was the Adult Services Librarian, a job he is still performing as the open position has not yet been filled.
Scott said at McGraw Hill his life was very work-centered, but at the library he was able to balance community, family and work better. He became involved with community organizations including the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Etowah County (RSVP), Metropolitan Area Noon Nutrition Association (MANNA), Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), Council on Aging of Etowah County, American Red Cross of Etowah County, Habitat for Humanity and more.
Because of his history at the Gadsden Public Library, Scott has a good idea of what he has to work with and some projects he would like to see done.
“We have a terrific staff here,” said Scott. “So, we’ve got a good foundation to build on.”
Scott’s vision includes looking to the future, which is something he has already spoken about at a recent staff meeting.
“I told them, ‘What’s going to become of libraries in the future?’” said Scott. “Are we even going to be a building anymore? What’s a library going to be in the future? And I said that it’s up to us, to really mold that direction.”
Scott said that the library needs to be a community center where everyone is welcome, which means continuing the programs the library offers. He also wants everyone entering the library to be greeted.
“I need to be out there too,” said Scott.
For the future, Scott hopes to build on the partnerships the library already has and forge new partnerships.
With his background in history and his time at the Gadsden Public Library assisting with genealogy research, Scott sees great potential to make the Alabama City Library a genealogy research center. To do this, Scott hopes to transfer GPL’s 4th floor, the genealogy research floor to Alabama City.
“It’s a historic building,” said Scott. “It’s a perfect setting for genealogists. We’re isolated up on the fourth floor. There’s no windows, there’s no restrooms and it’s just not inviting up there.”
Scott said that the Alabama City Library is a better location. It is in close proximity to the Etowah Historical Society and its Jerry Jones Library located in Elliot Community Center and the Nichols Library, a private library owned by the Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society. Scott does want to preserve a public library service in Alabama City as well, whether it is at the Alabama City Library branch or in a new facility.
Scott also hopes to partner with other library branches in Etowah County. The libraries currently collaborate to purchase electronic media, but Scott sees an opportunity to collaborate for programming as well.
“The library needs to be the hub for lifelong learning and engagement,“ Scott said. “Gadsden is a vibrant community with a diverse culture and strong sense of identity, and thanks to our long history, the Gadsden Public Library is well positioned to tap into this fantastic energy. I’m truly blessed and honored to lead the dedicated GPL team as we explore new programs, services and partnerships geared toward realizing the full potential of what the library can be.”