NEW SDL DIRECTOR KIM WHITE is shown in the children’s library in the Owosso branch on W. Main Street on Wednesday morning, Jan. 13. White brings over 20 years in library management services to SDL and is enthusiastic to reach out to the community for input on library services.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
Entering into 2021, the Shiawassee District Library (SDL) is now under the guidance of Kimberly White, who has been hired as the new director. SDL includes branches in both Owosso and Durand – and White brings considerable experience and enthusiasm to her new position.
White recently left her position at Hoyt Public Library in Saginaw, accepting the position in Owosso as a dream project to become a director in a small town. She fills Steven Flayer’s previous position, left vacant after his retirement in 2020. Her first day on the job was Monday, Jan. 4.
Just eight days into the job, during an interview on Wednesday, Jan. 13, White shared she has found the staff to be amazing and dedicated, and is excited they are willing to share so many great ideas for possible future improvements or projects.
“Right now, I’m in a phase of acclimating,” she shared, mentioning a conversation she had with the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce on participating in Leadership Shiawassee. She is eager to become a part of the community and is looking forward to meeting with Owosso City Manager Nathan Henne and the city council to discuss the library. The city actually owns the historic building in Owosso with SDL leasing it from the city. The structure is beautiful, but it is “showing a little more wear,” White said, referencing a few concerns.
White grew up in Hemlock and is quite familiar with the mid-Michigan area. She currently owns a house in Saginaw, but is looking forward to moving to Owosso toward spring. “I am looking to buy a house here. My intention is this is where I’m going to stay until I retire,” White said, having accumulated over 20 years in library management services.
Prior to Hoyt, White worked in St. Louis at the Cutler Library. Her early experience actually began in high school, but over time she found herself working in libraries so much and having so much fun, she never actually thought of it as a career path. A friend actually pointed her in that direction and so White’s career took off.
Discussing her plans, White wants to work with Owosso on building updates and the library contract/lease and also the city of Durand, though she is impressed with the connection Durand already has with the library. She believes both buildings are impressive, loving the historic aspect of the Owosso structure and the community presence of the Durand location near the park. White also wants to update technology, particularly wireless technology – and on the horizon this year is a millage renewal, too. White also has some ideas related to developing a new brand for SDL as part of helping the community understand that both branches are part of the same library.
“I want people to know I’m here to listen to what their desires are for library services,” she said. “I am looking forward to setting up some community conversations.” With pandemic protocols still in place, which limits some in-person meetings, White is accepting letters, either through email or the post office. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The Owosso branch address is 502 W. Main Street, Owosso, MI 48867.
“I really want to hear from people. I really want to know, what’s your good experience at the library? What’s your bad experience at the library? What can we do to better serve you?” White shared.
“Also, right now, a lot of people still think we’re closed. We’re not. We’re still here,” she said. “We’re open. We ask people to come in masked and to social distance. We don’t have 100 percent of our services available, but the majority of them are available. We’re doing everything we can to make library services as normal as possible.”
After seeing the job listing for the Owosso position, White was immediately drawn to applying. “Driving by this place, I always thought, ‘What a cool library.’ Coming north on M-52 and seeing the façade of this building and thinking, wow, what a beautiful library. I had always noticed it.” After visiting, she fast fell in love with the “structure and the environment” and the history of the county. “I just had a feeling this was going to be a really good fit.”
The Owosso SDL branch is located on W. Main Street and the phone number is (989) 725-5134. The Durand SDL branch is located at 700 N. Saginaw Street in downtown Durand. The phone number is (989) 288-3743. Nancy Folaron is the branch librarian/assistant director in Durand.