OWWL Libraries Adapt to Changing Community Needs | Local News

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Suzanne Macaulay, program director for the Pioneer Library System, has been named the 2022 Outstanding Librarian Award for the Finger Lakes region.

Macaulay has worked in the Pioneer Library System since 2016 and has worked at the system headquarters in Canandaigua since 2020.

The Pioneer Library System oversees the operations of 42 public libraries – known as OWWL Libraries – in Ontario, Wayne, Wyoming and Livingston counties.

“We jumped right into COVID and helped with policies and helped libraries figure out how to comply with New York Forward so they can reopen safely so we don’t really do a lot of library work then once that kind of worked out with that, we started looking at how libraries changed, how our communities changed, and what we could do,” Macaulay said. “That’s how my role leans more towards that outreach – we have time to meet people where they are in the community.”

The Outstanding Librarian Awards begin in 2021 and nominations are sent to Senator Sean Ryan, Chairman of the Senate Library Committee.

Macaulay described how Ryan helped secure funds for building aid at state libraries.

“Which is really important, especially in our four counties because a lot of our libraries are older buildings and they need new roofs and new HVAC systems, and they need extensions because they’ve outgrown space. So construction assistance is really important to us, so I’m really glad it’s been restored and not cut in half,” Macaulay said.

Before Macaulay became director of system programs, her title was assistant director and she launched several programs in the past 12 months. These programs include Books by Mail, a wholesale loan program for nursing homes, and a “community book distribution” program.

“Books in the Mail” aims to bring reading materials to housebound residents through the Pioneer library system by delivering books directly to the individual.

Macaulay said a resident at an assisted living facility called to request “books by mail,” but wanted books for the entire facility, not just herself. That phone call is what Macaulay says inspired the block lending program for nursing homes.

Macaulay is able to use the system’s 42 libraries to select large-print books to send to these institutions.

The “Community Book Distribution” program brings books to children in the community at food depots and other partners such as Foodlink to give children a book to call or add to their library at home.

“I think sometimes we don’t realize how great the needs are in our communities,” Macaulay said.

She hopes that programs like this will not only encourage reading in the community, but highlight the resource that libraries can be.

Macaulay joined the Pioneer Library System after serving as director of the Clifton Springs Library in Ontario County. One of the programs she was most proud of at the Clifton Springs Library was the care kits they offered throughout the library. The kits provided toiletries, first aid kits, socks, menstrual products, diapers and other useful items for those who might need them.

“Libraries, they have their books, but they’re also safe spaces for people,” Macaulay said. “I think we realize that everyone who comes through our doors has different circumstances and that just by creating safe and welcoming spaces for them and giving them not just books but other resources or supplies, they need to walk through their daily. lives was really important.

Macaulay was surprised to be nominated and honored for the Outstanding Librarian Award. She pointed out that often small library systems do not get the same recognition as large library systems across the country. She feels that small, rural libraries often do a great job of bringing value to their communities and she appreciated that this award shines a spotlight on that.

“Oh my God, I was really surprised. It was really overwhelming, but in a good way,” she said. “I feel like in libraries we don’t do the things for accolades or awards.We just do our job trying to bring value to our community and be good stewards of information and resources, but to be recognized, be nominated by your peers, c “It was really touching, it was really overwhelming. I was really proud. There’s a great mix of emotions… all good emotions, of course.

Macaulay noted the involvement of other people and teams that help accomplish and launch these programs. She highlighted the importance of the help of Ron Kirsop, executive director of the Pioneer Library System, who helped Macaulay find funding and always supported ideas within the system.

“I think when you work with a team that’s really supportive of you, the things that you can accomplish together when nobody’s really there for themselves – we’re all there for the greater good – and I think that’s is just a real benefit of working here at Pioneer Library System and working with OWWL Libraries It’s really collaborative, and even though I’m the face of a lot of these programs, I do it with the support of a really great team and I’m very lucky,” Macaulay said.

Macaulay looks forward to expanding the programs she and other system librarians have worked on.

“I think right now, where I’m at in my career, I think I’m able to help not just one community but 42 communities and I’m able to support libraries in those 42 communities and I just think it’s such a huge honor,” Macaulay said. “So while it was nice working in an individual library, I think I can really do a lot of good where I am now and I love being here in the system.”

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