Libraries across the country have undergone challenging transformations in recent years to better serve their communities in our digital age. To put it simply…libraries can’t just be places to check out a book anymore.
The Town of Clayton has hired Joy Garretson as the new director of the Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library. Her first day on the job is today (Tuesday). Joy comes to Clayton with a decade of experience as an educator and librarian, including expertise in digital resources and library programming aimed at making communities better places to live for all ages.
“I wanted to be somewhere people have a great sense of community and are excited to try the new,” said Garretson, who explored Clayton before applying for the job to lead our library. “I know Clayton is growing, but I just think I will feel at home here in a town this size. I want to know everybody!”
Garretson has always loved books and earned both an undergraduate and Master’s degree in English from Mississippi State University. She taught middle school English for several years and realized that she not only loved teaching teens, but longed to educate and empower all ages…from babies to seniors. She began her career in libraries in 2012, serving as a reference manager for the Pearl Public Library in Mississippi, a library small enough where she worked at every desk and served all patrons. The following year, she moved to the Mississippi Library Commission, where she organized training for librarians and library staff from around the state before serving as Library Development Director. At MLC, she helped libraries write library policy, design engaging children’s programming, and introduce the futuristic technology of 3D printing to their patrons.
“I’m extremely excited about Joy joining our staff,” said Deputy Town Manager Nancy Medlin, who oversees the library. “She comes to us with a strong background in staff development and has a demonstrated track record of developing creative and innovative programs. We feel she’s going to be a great fit for our team.”
Four library director finalists participated in a day-long interview and assessment process aimed at finding the best candidate for Clayton’s unique municipally-operated library. Town leaders, library staff and community members served as evaluators. The process involved a written exercise, presentation, mock personnel scenario, and traditional interviews. Garretson admitted it was more strenuous than any job interview she’d ever had, but the reviewers said she did nothing less than impress.
“The selection process was rigorous, and I am confident that the best candidate was chosen for the job,” said Stephanie Satkowiak, a member of the town’s Library Board. “On behalf of myself and the board, we are extremely happy to welcome Joy as the new director of Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library. We look forward to working with her, and are excited to forge a new partnership which will only serve to enhance our library, the heart and soul of our community!”
Downtown Clayton resident and businesswoman Ruth Anderson also volunteered her time to serve on the assessment evaluation team. She agrees Garretson will be a great fit.
“Joy’s excitement and enthusiasm for her vision of our library was contagious,” said Anderson. “I am so excited about Joy joining the Town of Clayton. Look for great things to come from our library. Welcome Joy!”
Garretson will oversee about 15 full and part-time staff at the Clayton Library and manage a collection that includes more than 75,000 volumes, a growing eBook collection, hundreds of other electronic resources and extensive year-round programming. She replaces former Library Director Christie Starnes who decided to return to her family and hometown in July after a 5-year tenure at Hocutt-Ellington Memorial that included leading the library to achieve State Library recognition, a move that finally secured eligibility for state funding, grant opportunities, free digital resources and international book sharing.
Garretson and her husband, who now live in Cary, have a 6 year old daughter. In addition to her passion for reading, Garretson loves to bake, hike, play guitar, sing, and draw or paint when she has the time.
A casual Meet & Greet for Garretson will take place on Monday, September 18th from 4-6 p.m. at Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library at 100 South Church Street, just off Main Street in Downtown Clayton.