Hometown gal knows a good book when she sees one
Posted By Sparta Live | January 10, 2002 12:00 am
Surrounded by the muffled hush of filled bookcases at the White County Public Library, Library Director Cathy Taylor is truly in her element. With the printed word around her in multiple forms, Taylor, one of the library’s most vigorous supporters, thrives on all the institution has to offer both her and the residents of the county.
“I don’t ever remember not being able to read,” she said. “I enjoy books.”
Growing up surrounded by books in her home, Taylor pointed to the nearby reference stacks stating that when she was small, her parents had bookshelves “as tall as those.”
“My dad still occasionally builds more bookcases to hold all the books,” she continued. “You open a closet door in my parents’ house and there’s a bookcase. They moved the children out to have more room for books.”
“I guess you try to influence your children the way you were brought up,” said Taylor’s father, John McCord. “When I was four years old, I actually remembering crying because I wanted to read books, but hadn’t learned to read. But I could read when I started to school. I have always been an active reader, an addictive reader, and my wife is avid reader. We encouraged our daughters to read at an early age.”
McCord teasingly stated when Cathy was young, she would hide from him when he wanted her to do chores. “so she could read.” Then he added, “I’m awfully proud of my daughters.”
Taylor grew up in Quebeck and attended grammar school in Doyle, later graduating from White County High School. After earning a degree at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Taylor resided for a time in La Maddelena, Italy, where she worked in various capacities as a civilian employee for the Department of Defense. After a time, she returned to the United States to work first in Savannah, Georgia, at Hunter Army Air Field, and then at Oceana Naval Air Station, where she filled positions in Automated Data Processing and then in personnel.
“No matter where I lived, whether it was Italy, Georgia or Virginia, I kept a subscription to The Expositor so I could keep track of my hometown news,” said Taylor, and that is where, in 1997, she spotted a job advertisement for Library Director at the White County Public Library.
“My mom went and picked up an application and faxed it to me,” she said. “I returned the application, and they called me for an interview. And the rest, they say, is history.”
Though she daily deals with a respectable amount of paperwork, Taylor reads and reviews approximately five books a week.
“What I read the most of are children’s books, and I do that a lot because I’m the one that selects the material for the library,” she said. “Most of the adult materials I buy are based on an authors recognition. For example, Stephen King, Danielle Steele, John Grisham – those authors are going to hit the best sellers’ list, they will be read. So, most of my adult selections are based on patron demand.”
With children’s books, Taylor cites a much different story. She said because of the many different authors in children’s books, there’s not really a perennial best seller in children’s literature.
“You have the classics that are always going to be around like Clifford, PBS characters, Dr. Seuss, and Arthur, but most of the breakthroughs in children’s literature are done by unknown authors, like J. K. Rawlings with her Harry Potter series,” she said. ” Most of the stuff I read is aimed at children in first through 10th grade. I guess that’s because I’ve never really grown up.”
Though Taylor wears many hats as library director, she gives credit for the library’s success to many others.
“One of the new things we tried this year was giving library cards to children on the first day of school, with school registration,” she said. “Mr. Haley, White County schools superintendent, gave the library permission to go into each school and sign students up for public library cards. Due to Mr. Haley’s efforts, over 300 children
received public library cards that day.”
She credits changes she has implemented at the library to the library Board of Trustees, stating each time she has approached them with a new idea, they have been highly supportive.
“Because of their support for new programs and initiatives, the library has enjoyed record breaking years,” she said, citing the library has set record circulation numbers the past two years, and are expecting another record breaking year. “This indicates to me that our outreach programs are working. The library board also had the foresight to form a Friends group, and a library foundation. Friends of the Library is outstanding, they are present at every function the community has be it Liberty Square, the Fourth of July celebration, or the Christmas parade. They have really made themselves a known force in the community, and their projects like the book sales and the Blackberry Festival are gaining their own reputations as much-anticipated community events”
Taylor said the Library Foundation was created with the sole purpose of raising funds for the new building.
“Their commitment to their task is awe-inspiring,” she said. “They have secured multiple stock donations, land donations, as well as corporate donations and grants. When the new library is a reality, it will be due to the work of the Library Foundation. They are mostly behind the scenes, and people aren’t always aware of what they do.”
And then there’s praise for her staff.
“They are a hoot, they make coming work a blast,” she said, laughing. “I mostly come to work to see what they’re going to do next.”
Taylor said her staff has great dedication and talents, with a willingness to put the patrons’ needs first, and she added, “They’ll go out of their way to find resources, or help a child with a school report. They are skilled at locating all types of information.”
Not a person to dwell on negativity, Taylor briefly mentioned the recent illness of her husband, Dan, but her mood remained upbeat and positive as she told of his bout last year with gastric cancer.
“It’s in remission, and he’s been back at work for about five months,” she said. “Had it not been for the prayers and support of the people in this community, I don’t know how we would have managed during that time. When Dan was sick, our church family cooked for us, prayed for us, they went to appointments with us – they were wonderful.”
Taylor credits her family and the church membership at Greenwood Baptist with the wonderful emotional support they showed her and Dan during his illness. Persons with his type of cancer normally have only a five percent survival rate from the illness, but he’s doing very well.
“Everyday he’s here is a blessing,” she said.
“She’s a blessing to library,” said Dr. Charles Mitchell, member of the Library Board. “I think Cathy has been a great help to the library in that she has instilled new programs and new interest into the library, She has unselfishly devoted a lot of her extra time to promoting the library.”