Please join us in welcoming Meredith E. Wickham as the new Director of Southwest Public Libraries!
Meredith assumed the position of Director at the beginning of the month, and we are excited for the passion and inspiration she brings.
SPL’s Board of Trustees selected Meredith as the library’s next Director after a nationwide search which began last summer and was conducted with the assistance of library executive search consultants Bradbury Miller Associates. Meredith succeeds Mark M. Shaw who retired January 29.
Board trustees have full confidence in Meredith’s leadership.
“Meredith is a seasoned professional who will lead us into the future. She is a fierce advocate for public libraries in the areas of youth literacy, staff development, and equity,” say trustees. “She also has extensive experience lobbying for funding in her state, among other talents.”
Meredith is excited to be at SPL and is looking forward to getting to know the library and community. “SPL has already impressed me with its excellent and dedicated Board and professional staff, plus its superior reputation and consistent track record for high quality, patron-focused services,” says Meredith. “I look forward to getting to know my new colleagues and the people of the community while continuing to prioritize providing library service in innovative ways that are safe for all.”
Meredith comes to SPL from First Regional Library, headquartered in Hernando, MS, where she served as Director and oversaw operations for one of the largest public library systems in Mississippi. First Regional’s multi-branch library cooperative serves patrons across five northern Mississippi counties.
Prior to First Regional Meredith served in public libraries in South Carolina and Mississippi as a Circulation Assistant, Young Adult Librarian, Branch Manager, and System Director. The American Library Association (ALA) named Meredith an Emerging Leader and the Mississippi Library Association (MLA) granted her one of its most prestigious honors, the Peggy May Award.
Meredith actively serves as a leader in state and national library associations. Previously, she has served as ALA Councilor for the Mississippi Chapter, served on the Board of Directors for the Association for Rural & Small Libraries, and served multiple terms as MLA Legislative Chair and State Coordinator for ALA’s National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C.
Meredith has been a member of several working and book selection committees, including the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. She has published research in the academic journal Library Trends about the diversity of content and authorship of youth collections as welll as served as an advisor for national research on public libraries as sites of social wellbeing. Meredith has also served as a grant reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Get to Know Meredith! Q & A
What drew you to a library career?
I found my way to librarianship by accident. Or fate, if you prefer. One of my closest friends told me that volunteering at her local library in the midst of the Great Recession had really cheered her up and suggested I try it when my business was struggling, and I was feeling down. So I did. By the end of my second week as a volunteer, I was thinking, “Where have you been all my life?” Although I have always loved libraries, it had never occurred to me to think of working in one as a career option until then.
I now think I found my calling at the perfect time and that everything that came before helped to make me (I hope) a better fit for the field. Librarianship is a rare profession in which everything you do or experience or learn makes you better at your work. It's wonderful!
You hear “Ohio.” First word that comes to mind?
“Libraries!” That probably tells you a lot.
What drew you to Ohio?
Ohio is widely recognized as one of the best states, if not the best, for libraries. Every time I have attended national conferences or worked on a national project or committee, I have been so impressed by the quality of the librarianship coming out of the Midwest in general, and it has not escaped me that Ohio libraries have elite status even among Midwestern libraries. I could not help being attracted to the state’s library culture and reputation.
~~ Favorite Things ~~
What’s one of your favorite books?
The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
What’s one of your favorite childhood books?
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.
If you could be dropped into a fictional world from a book or movie, what world would you choose?
I'd like to be dropped into Rivendell as an elf, please. Because I’d have a few extra human lifetimes’ worth of time to read and learn and grow in understanding as I enjoy life and nature in a truly beautiful setting.
Beverage of choice?
Coffee or chai tea.
Cats, Dogs, or Plants?
That is incredibly tough. I love all of those so much! But if forced to choose, I will go with cats! Meet Meredith’s kitties Kiki (black with a white spot) and Judy (grey).
Favorite hobbies besides reading?
Knitting and gardening.
Ireland. Or Japan. Or New Zealand. Really anywhere that’s an adventure for me, something new to discover. To be honest, I am feeling a bit of this right now, coming to a brand new state to live. Everything is new and waiting to be explored though some exploring may haveto wait a bit in order to be safe.
One thing on your bucket list?
To work on a pottery wheel.
Would you rather time travel to the future or time travel to the past?
To the future. I'm a little melancholy sometimes that I won't get to know how the whole of human history works out! Although I do like reading both historical fiction and science fiction.
If you could only take three things with you to a deserted island, what would you take?
A big journal to write in, an endless supply of contact lenses, and a survivalist manual.