Library director to retire June 30
— Cecil County Public Library Director Denise Davis will leave her job of the last 15 years for a new role that will keep her in touch with the library community.
Davis will go from her current paid position June 30 to the volunteer position of vice president of the Mar yland Library Association on July 1. In 2017, Davis will become president of the MLA.
“I don’t see myself as ever fully retiring,” Davis said. “I’ll remain engaged in professional activities and consulting, while having more time to write, bicycle and travel.”
The library announced her retirement Friday, revealing that Assistant Director of Public Services Morgan Miller will serve as acting director, effective July 1. Meanwhile, the library board of trustees has already begun its search for a permanent director.
During Davis’ tenure, the library received numerous awards, including the Institute of Museum and Library Science National Medal,
the nation’s highest honor for libraries. That honor culminated in Davis, Library Board President Ken Wiggins and other library representatives visiting the White House to accept the award in 2015.
“I credit my staff, the board and all of the citizens who enthusiastically use and support the library for this award,” she said.
When Davis arrived in Cecil County in 2001, the library system was facing 21st-century challenges.
Under her leadership, the county library system has made advances in technology, lifelong learning, business assistance, youth services and community partnerships,
as well as brick-and-mortar improvements and renovations to its seven branches.
“One of our challenges as librarians is to allow our users to learn to break down barriers to learning and take advantage of what we can offer,” Davis said.
Ten years ago, Davis introduced the Small Business Information Center to the library. The SBIC shares research data and offers access to a business librarian for county entrepreneurs.
Among the new, expanded or renovated branches under Davis’s guidance are Port Deposit, Chesapeake City, Perryville, Cecilton, Elkton and Rising Sun. Plans are currently awaiting approval for a proposed North East operation.
In 2013, CCPL received the Maryland Library Association President’s Customer Service Award, and in 2011 won the Mary-
land Chamber of Commerce NonProfit Partner in Business award – the only library to ever receive this honor.
“Our library has changed smartly and rapidly in key areas to keep up with the community’s changing needs,” Davis said, noting that technology has driven much of the changes.
Davis is passionate about libraries and people, especially children. She’s proud of her staff and the improvements they’ve made to the “Summer Reading Program,” by partnering with the public school to reach more children with needs to encourage their participation in the summer program.
“We’ve had a 50 percent increase in registration in summer reading from Title I schools,” Davis said. “Research shows these programs have a positive impact on high
school drop-out rates.”
Her colleagues expressed mixed feeling about her departure.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Friends of the Library Amanda Butler said. “She’s an amazing person and leader who is an inspiration to her staff. We’re proud of her and happy to continue to keep her vision for the library going into the future.”
Erica Jesonis, eBranch manager of CCPL, credits Davis with inspiring her to seek a new career. When Jesonis started working at the library part- time 10 years ago, she never dreamed it would become her career.
“I had been a high school teacher for seven years before I started at the library,” she said. “It sparked something in me and I discovered a love for the profession.”
Jesonis refers to Davis as a
wonderful boss and mentor.
“She’s very ethical and she cares deeply about her job and the community,” Jesonis said.
Davis said she is excited about her new role with the state association because it will allow her to continue advocating for libraries across Maryland.
“I think Cecil County has been on the leading edge of change and I look forward to sharing Cecil County Public Library’s vision with other libraries,” she said.
But for the next two weeks Davis still has work to do, including cleaning out her office.
“I will miss my staff the most, but I won’t lose touch with them,” she vowed. “I’ll also miss the community and all the opportunities I’ve had in Cecil County to make a difference and do meaningful work.”