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PYSK: Melissa Carr

PYSK: Melissa Carr

Melissa Carr

director, Daniel Boone Regional Library

Age:

60

Years lived in Columbia:

Since I arrived for my freshman year at the University of Missouri 42 years ago

Original hometown:

Rolla, Mo

Education:

A bachelor’s degree in English and library science and a master’s degree in library science, both from the University of Missouri

Job Description:

I oversee the operations of the three libraries, bookmobile services and digital branch that together comprise the Daniel Boone Regional Library system for Boone and Callaway counties. Part of that involves effectively managing an $8.9 million annual budget and working with amazing staff that are committed to providing the best services we can to as many residents as possible. I enjoy the variety my job offers — from meeting with community members about library services to planning for the future with the board of trustees and staff.

Community involvement:

I’m a member of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the chamber’s education committee and co-chairwoman of the early childhood subcommittee; Rotary South; Heart of Missouri United Way campaign committee; Columbia Values Diversity Celebration committee; MU School of Information Science & Learning Technologies’ Library Science Advisory Council; and the Hallsville Chamber of Commerce.

Professional Background:

At age 10, I decided that I wanted to be a librarian because my grandmother was the director of the Rolla Public Library. She knew everyone, she had friends from all over the country that she would visit (including Hawaii), she was invited on a regular basis to the local service clubs, she went to conferences and, most importantly, she loved what she was doing. So when I came here to attend the University of Missouri, I knew that I wanted to become a public librarian, and the first step was to get a job at the Daniel Boone Regional Library. For almost 40 years, I’ve enjoyed being a member of the Daniel Boone Regional Library staff. I started in the circulation department working part-time evenings and weekends and later in the public services department at the Columbia Public Library. After getting my master’s degree, I was hired as a public services librarian and then worked my way into several different administrative positions. In 1996, the board of trustees hired me as the fourth Daniel Boone Regional Library director.

A favorite recent project:

As a way to accomplish one of the goals in the library’s strategic plan to “expand and enhance library services and the patron experience,” we strategically placed book drops in different quadrants of metro Columbia. We reviewed several possible locations and now have five sites. Since November 2011, more than 52,000 items have been returned to these convenient off-site book drops.

A Columbia businessperson I admire and why:

There are so many amazing business people in Columbia who not only run outstanding businesses but also take the time to make Columbia an even better place to live. Over my almost 40 years at the library, I have had the good fortune to work with so many leaders on community projects or who have served on the library board that it is difficult to name just one.

Why I’m passionate about my job:

I truly believe in the library’s mission of encouraging reading and lifelong learning. This library is a place — both physical and digital — for everyone to connect to the world of information and ideas. It is so rewarding to be in the “business” of helping people. As a community resource, we encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to succeed in their own way. I have the privilege of working with outstanding staff and volunteers — the board of trustees, the Friends groups and the Daniel Boone Regional Library Foundation — who are committed to our mission. In addition, working in such a positive environment and hearing the stories about the role the library has played in someone’s life keeps my enthusiasm and passion fresh.

If I weren’t doing this for a living, I would:

I would be a librarian. For me there is no other choice.

Biggest career obstacle I’ve overcome and how:

When I first became director, it was challenging to find enough hours in the day to accomplish all the projects before me. Since then, I’ve learned to more effectively delegate and set priorities. Most importantly, I have had the good fortune to build a wonderful administrative team and staff, upon whom I can rely.

What people should know about this profession:

You won’t find the stereotypical librarian at Daniel Boone Regional Library. We have to stay current as new technologies such as smart phones and eBooks change how people want to access information and reading materials. We help people everyday find what they need and teach them something new, and as a result our librarians excel in problem solving, they know our digital and physical collections inside and out and strive to build interpersonal relationships with our patrons.

What I do for fun:

During leisure time I like cooking for friends, playing with my grandchildren, traveling and of course reading.

Family:

My husband, David, and I started dating in high school. We enjoy our two adult children, our fabulous son-in-law and the smartest, most adorable two grandchildren.

Accomplishment I’m most proud of:

As I reflect on this question, I must say that I’m proudest of how the library remains relevant to our community. The staff, board and community have consistently worked together to make this a wonderful place and resource. I frequently hear comments about my co-workers’ amazing customer service — whether it’s helping business people gain new skills (Universal Class at www.dbrl.org), assisting someone with their résumé or engaging a child in reading.

Most people don’t know that I:

Almost every week I watch part of a story time or attend a children’s program.

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