On March 23, the Monroe County Public Library Board of Trustees confirmed the appointment of Grier Carson as Director of the Library, effective May 6. Carson follows Director Marilyn Wood, who will retire after ten years of accomplishments at the Library.
At the top of Wood’s list of achievements is the planning and construction of the forthcoming Southwest Branch Library. She has led every step of the planning process from gathering initial community input to site acquisition and the building’s design.
The Branch is scheduled to open in early 2023. Although she’s sad that she won’t be present in an official capacity when the branch opens, Wood said “Planning for a new branch is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and that’s a legacy I’m really privileged to be a part of.”
Carson began his path to librarianship here in Bloomington. As an undergraduate at Indiana University, he studied English literature and art history and received his Master of Library Science degree in 2006. Grier’s career led him to Lake Forest Academy, a boarding school in Illinois where he worked his way from librarian to Director of Libraries and Academic Technology.
Carson moved back to Bloomington in 2013 when he became the Director of Putnam County Public Library, overseeing important renovations and expansions and increasing outreach efforts. In 2018, seeking library work closer to home, Grier became Access and Content Manager at MCPL, and in 2020, he became Associate Director, working alongside Wood to navigate the Library through the pandemic and plan for the future.
In her role as Director, Wood led Library staff through many accomplishments and awards, including:
In discussing the future of the Library beyond Wood’s tenure, Carson acknowledges the many facets of any public library in this day and age, including new collections and experiences, community partnerships, the evolving concept of literacy, and equity.
“Developing collections that represent diverse backgrounds and experiences will continue to be a priority for us, despite the increasing challenges to intellectual freedom in libraries posed by numerous campaigns to either impose restrictions on what we can select or remove items from our collections entirely,” Carson said. “I believe that the way we support and facilitate intellectual freedom will continually be redefined by digital technologies––and at greater speeds and with ever-greater implications for the average citizen.”
Carson acknowledges that diversity is a broad and complex idea. “As a Library, we directly serve and support individuals. Our true ‘product,’ if we want to call it that, is a process of discovery that can contribute to enlightenment on the part of library users. Whatever that might look like, one of its greatest manifestations is a desire to strengthen community.”
Carson’s primary Library belief is that everyone has both the ability and the responsibility to think for themselves and that public libraries, through responsive collection development, programs, and services, have a responsibility to facilitate that independence of thought.
Learn more about Carson’s future opportunities for the Library by watching his presentation to the Monroe County Public Library Board of Trustees on Community Access Television Services.
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