Friday, August 22 will be Deb Stewart’s last day as Director of the Elkhart Public Library.
Stewart joined EPL in 2000 as manager of the Osolo Branch, coming to us from the Sturgis District Library in Sturgis, Michigan. She transferred to the Main Library in 2003 when the position of Assistant Director was created. In May, 2010, the EPL Board of Trustees appointed her as Interim Director, and in November of that year, she was named Director.
Speaking for the Board, President Janice Dean said they had been “very happy” with her work during the interim period. They felt that her understanding of the system, staff and issues facing the Library made her the right candidate for the position.
In 2011/2012, faced with a downturn in the economy and budget reductions, it became necessary to improve the efficiency of Library services. Under Stewart’s guidance, the Main Library was renovated and reorganized. Changes included centralized checkout, a separate Public Computer Center, an Information Desk and relocation of all Popular Materials to the main level. The Children’s Room was updated, and a small program room added. Reference materials were moved to the second floor for quieter viewing, and, for the first time in many years, all nonfiction materials are on same level. The result has been a more convenient, comfortable and welcoming environment for our patrons.
In addition to physical improvements to the Main Library, staff benefits were revised, and staff reorganized within new departments. Also under Stewart’s watch, the Pierre Moran Branch was updated, organizationally and technologically, to accommodate its growing usage, and the Library’s social media presence was expanded.
“None of this could have been accomplished,” says Stewart, “without the full cooperation of the staff and Board. They are wonderful, caring people, and a pleasure to work with!”
As much as she has enjoyed her time at EPL, Stewart is also looking forward to retirement. She plans to travel, fish, weave, and spend “lots and lots of time” with her grandchildren.
“We will miss Deb a lot!” said a staff member, “but we wish her a wonderful retirement, and are excited about working with Lisa.”
EPL’s new Director, Lisa Guedea Carreño, started August 11, and takes the reins on Monday, August 25.