Library director at Perry taking position in Virginia

Dec. 13, 2013 @ 07:36 PM

Jay Stephens, director of Perry Memorial Library, has submitted his resignation, effective Dec. 31 to take the position directing the Halifax-South Boston Library System in Virginia.

The Perry board of trustees has already started the process of finding a replacement. Cynthia Walker, chairwoman of the board, has appointed a search committee. She said an ad has been placed on the State Library of North Carolina website with an application deadline of Jan. 10.

Stephens has served as director of Perry since February, 2011.

Walker said the trustees have been pleased with the job he has done.

“He’s been very helpful in updating policies,” she said. “He’s brought things to the board that ought to be done.”

Bob Hubbard, vice chairman of the trustees, said, “We’re certainly going to miss him. The library has improved in its overall performance and the way it reached out to the public. I’m hoping we can find someone equally talented.”

Susan Adcock, a member of the board of trustees, added, “I certainly hate to see him go. He’s been very easy to work with.”

A native of Roanoke, Va., Stephens received a bachelor’s degree in religion from Roanoke College and a master’s degree in library science from the UNC Greensboro.

He and his wife Lisa have two sons, Ethan, 12, and Jon, 14. The family lives in Danville, Va. The 90-minute commute to Henderson entered into his decision to make a job change.

“I’ll be able to spend more time with them,” Stephens said.

Of his time in Henderson, he said, “I’ve worked with some great people, the library staff and the library board. That’s always beneficial.”

He mentioned changes that have taken place during his tenure. Grant funds allowed the library to buy additional computers, including four literacy computers for children.

“There’s a big demand for e-books,” he said. “We get a lot of requests for that.”

Another innovation has been outreach to nursing homes.

“Jennifer Brax does programs with materials the grants enabled us to buy,” Stephens said.

The hours of operation were expanded, adding hours on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

“We see people, patrons, that we don’t see any other time,” Stephens said of the Sunday hours.

Brax, the adult services librarian, said, “I’m glad for him, that he’s moving onward and upward. I’m sad for us, because he’s been a very, very good director.

“He encouraged Patti and me to be the best we could be,” she said, referring to Patti McAnally, youth services librarian. “Everything we accomplished was because of his vision, encouragement and support.”

Brax is optimistic about the future of the library.

“I believe whatever happens will happen for the best, because we have a very good library board,” Brax said.

Barbara Parham, a program specialist in the Youth Services Department, said literacy computers, audio books and “maker space” were all part of the accomplishments under Stephens’ watch.

Stephens said he is excited about prospects for the construction and opening of McGregor Hall, an adjacent performing arts center that will form Breckenridge Commons.

“The library and the performance hall will complement each other,” he said. “People will come to the library to use our resources. They’ll go to the performing arts center to see a show. And the gallery in between will have displays. It will make this whole block a destination.”

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.