Morgan charts course for library system
Melanie Morgan, Director of Libraries for the Neuse Regional Library System / photo by Jon Dawson
Meet Melanie Morgan, the new Director of Libraries for the Neuse Regional Library System, which serves Greene, Jones, and Lenoir Counties through eight locations.
"I normally do not admit this, but I am originally from South Jersey," Morgan said. "I think most people have a preconceived idea of New Jersey, but the town I grew up in was rural with a strong agricultural base. I think my upbringing helps me better understand the needs of a rural community, and the important role libraries play in providing access to resources and technology."
Morgan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Central Florida, along with a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida. She has also obtained a North Carolina Professional Teaching Certificate as a Media Specialist.
Prior to starting her new job on Nov. 1, Morgan was the Library Director for the Madison County Public Libraries in Western North Carolina. Under her leadership, the Madison County Public Libraries won the Best Small Library in America Award in 2018, among other accolades.
When asked to describe her current job duties, Morgan was eager to dispel common misconceptions.
"I always love this question because there is a dominant stereotype that librarians read books all day, wear their hair in a bun, love to shush people and have lots of cats," Morgan said. "In reality, I wear multiple hats and strive daily to ensure the community has a strong library system that utilizes our tax dollars responsibly through strategic planning, supervision and oversight, programming and outreach, budget and resource management, intellectual freedom and leadership."
Morgan says libraries are no longer designed for "solitary pursuits".
"Libraries are now centers of activity," she said. "Whether connecting people with resources or with one another, the library has become a community hub committed to lifelong learning and collaboration. While the Neuse Regional Library System continues to provide access to a wealth of books for educational and recreational reading, we also support the community through a myriad of programming for all ages and foster creativity through educational experiences and technology access."
Morgan said Neuse Regional locations offer Wi-Fi, gaming stations, 3-D printers, and a variety of enriching programming for all ages.
"Our library staff members go above and beyond to serve their community," Morgan said. "Greene, Jones, Lenoir and the City of Kinston have an incredible library system."
Morgan also praised the work of her predecessor.
"The Neuse Regional Library System is strong thanks to the dedication and service of the previous Director of Libraries, Mrs. Agnes Ho," Morgan said. "It is my hope to take the successes of Mrs. Ho and expand them to take the library to the next level through strong community partnerships and outreach. I’d also like to create alternative pathways to learning that focus on 21st-century literacy and workforce development skills that foster economic growth. It's also important to build strong relationships with local schools to support coordinated learning and reduce out-of-school learning loss."
Morgan said she'd like to position the library as a community hub by providing resources, programming, technology access, and services that help advance opportunities for all.
"In addition, I hope to focus on some facility projects at the branch locations to help create smart spaces for active learning," Morgan said. "Of course, the library is all about literacy, and we will continue to empower learners of all ages with the opportunity to reach their highest potential through diverse literacy programming and instruction."
When Morgan isn't busy directing the day-to-day operations of the library system, she enjoys reading, going to the beach, and traveling with her husband and two daughters.
"Reflecting back to the (librarian) stereotype, I must admit I do have three cats."