An update on services at SPL

With the recent expiration of the county Stay-At-Home Advisory and COVID numbers continuing to trend down, we are happy to announce expanded services and access coming soon! We are excitedly preparing our buildings, our equipment, and our spaces to safely welcome you. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Stay tuned for details.

Our libraries are currently open for safe, no-contact

  • holds pickup
  • document services (print, copy, scan, fax)
  • activity kit pickup
  • telephone reference questions
  • virtual programming
  • returns
  • and more

Learn more about our current services here or enjoy our digital library 24/7.

 

Expanded Services Mar 2021 Coming Soon socialmedia

 

 

MWickham edited2Please 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.”


About Meredith

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.

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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).

Meredith cats

 

Favorite hobbies besides reading?
Knitting and gardening.

Dream vacation?
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.

Congratulations to SPL Director Mark Shaw on retirement this month after 35 years of dedication to the library!

Mark has guided SPL through many highs and lows, and we thank him for his steady leadership. Mark may be ending this chapter of his time at SPL, but he hopes the next chapter includes plenty of time to read and frequent the library as a patron. Read Mark's farewell below.

See also:

  • Video of presentations recognizing Mark for his service from socially-distanced gathering January 19. Presentations by Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage, State Representative Laura Lanese, State Senator Stephanie Kunze, library assistant directors, Friends of the Library, and more. 
  • ThisWeekNews 'Mark Shaw Closing Book on 35-year career'
  • Grove City Messenger 'Starting a new chapter'

A Farewell from Director Mark Shaw

MShaw2016 cropWhen I came to Southwest Public Libraries in January 1986, it was then known as the Grove City Public Library. The Grove City Library was on Park Street across from the Grove City Police Station, and Westland Area Library was a tiny branch of 6,000 square feet known as the Prairie Branch Library.

My first job with SPL was Treasurer for the library system. In 1989, I added the title of Operations Manager with responsibility for technology and buildings. I became Director in 2002 upon the retirement of Frances Black. When I first came to SPL, I did not intend to stay long. My goal was to become a portfolio manager and financial analyst.

But I fell in love with the library. I love the concept of libraries connecting patrons with library materials and information and entertainment regardless of wealth or status. I love the fact that anyone can walk into a public library and access the whole universe of knowledge without spending one dime. I loved it so much that I made it my career and life’s work.

Many changes have occurred since 1986. Computers were just starting to become a force for libraries when I started but are now ubiquitous. The internet was a decade away but is now so entwined with daily life that we use it without thought. Patrons are no longer limited by what is on the shelf at Grove City or Westland. Millions of items, both paper and electronic, are a click away. In partnership with the City of Grove City, a new Grove City Library was opened on Broadway in 2016, shining today as one of Grove City’s jewels. The Westland Area Library has expanded from 6,000 square feet to 27,000 square feet, including a beautiful new Youth Services Department that was opened in 2019.

But these accomplishments are certainly not mine alone. Many people have worked hard to advance Southwest Public Libraries through the years. I have spent the last 35 years surrounded by talented and hardworking staff members who have worked with me as a team to continuously improve library service.

Dozens of community volunteers have served as library trustees and have volunteered thousands of hours towards the cultivation of SPL. Grove City resident Jeff Davis and his team of dedicated volunteers passed SPL’s first levy in 2010 and made the expansions of the last ten years possible. The determination and hard work of Grove City Mayor Richard L. “Ike” Stage and Grove City Administrator Chuck Boso enabled the new Grove City Library to come to fruition.

Finally, but not least, the support of our patrons and community has made SPL what it is today. Without you, we could not have passed our levy, and without you, it would not have been renewed in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. We are grateful.

SPL has not been without lows. During my tenure, there have been four major economic downturns which forced me to make painful cuts to staff and services. The Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 was particularly brutal and forced me to make the heartbreaking decision to lay off a sizable portion of the loyal and hardworking library staff to deal with budget cuts. That time was the low point of my career. Before passing a levy in 2010, we had failed seven levies in a row, which was a bitter disappointment. But with the support of our community, we have proved SPL is resilient.

In December 2017, I informed the Board of Trustees of my intention to retire in early 2021. Little did I know back then that my final year would be upended by a worldwide pandemic. I spent my entire career trying to make libraries more inviting, accessible, and user-friendly and yet in this past year have been forced to scale everything back in an effort to keep everyone safe. The past year has brought unprecedented disruption to library service, and I am grateful that our patrons have stuck with us as we have adapted service to respond to conditions we never thought we would experience.

I have pledged to the Board of Trustees to do whatever is necessary to ensure a smooth and successful transition to a new director. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the SPL community over the last 35 years, and I extend heartfelt gratitude to all of those who have helped and supported me along the way. I will always love SPL.

 

With gratitude,

 


Mark M. Shaw


 “I am unsure where the library would be today without Mark’s financial acumen, keen ability to gather people in support of SPL, and all the sheer hard work and determination he put into promoting SPL’s value to the community...The work he has done here during his 35 years of service has had a major impact on the organization and will not be forgotten.”

-Michele Lowe, Assistant Director Westland Area Library

 

"It’s not an overstatement to assert that Southwest Public Libraries exists in its current state primarily because of the expertise and stewardship of retiring director Mark Shaw. He played a major role in SPL’s operations in his first position as Clerk/Treasurer. After his promotion to Library Director in 2002, Mark guided the library through both the most difficult and successful periods in its history. His financial acumen and foresight during economic downturns and funding struggles allowed the library to continue operation. He made tough decisions that led to SPL’s very survival. The decisions he made in the hard times paved the way for a brighter future." 

-Bethanne Johnson, Assistant Director Grove City Library (Ret. Sep 2020)

Pattern sections for our February stitch-along are linked below! 


Join us this month for a virtual Knit & Crochet Stitch-Along featuring a crocheted snowman scarf and knitted entrelac beret. Part of each pattern will be released each Saturday in February, four parts in all. Stitch along and share your progress with us and other library yarn crafters as you complete each section. Share your pics with us on Facebook @SPLFranklinCountyOH or tag us on Instagram @southwestpl. These patterns will also be available for pickup at the library each Saturday, sealed into four separate envelopes to make it easy to keep to the weekly schedule.

 

Crochet:

Snowman Scarf Week 1 (Feb 6)

Snowman Scarf Week 2 (Feb 13)

Snowman Scarf Week 3 (Feb 20)

Snowman Scarf Week 4 (Feb 27 final)

 

Knit:

Entrelac Beret Week 1 (Feb 6)

Entrelac Beret Week 2 (Feb 13) 

Entrelac Beret Week 3 (Feb 20) 

Entrelac Beret Week 4 (Feb 27 final) 

 

stitchalong crochet    stitchalong knit

The Southwest Public Library Board of Trustees has selected Meredith Wickham, most recently Director of First Regional Library located in northern Mississippi, to succeed Mark Shaw as SPL's next Director. Shaw is retiring at the end of January after 35 years at the library.

Grove City, Ohio—In late January, Southwest Public Libraries (SPL) will start a new chapter in its history as it bids farewell to current library Director Mark M. Shaw and welcomes new Director Meredith E. Wickham. Shaw is retiring at the end of January after 35 years at SPL, having served as Director since 2002. SPL’s Board of Trustees appointed Wickham as the next Director after conducting a nationwide search with the assistance of library executive search consultants Bradbury Miller Associates. Wickham will start January 25.

Meredith currently serves as Director of First Regional Library, overseeing operations for one of the largest public library systems in Mississippi. Previously, she 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 received her Bachelor of Arts in French and German from Berry College in Rome, Georgia and her Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. 

“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. She also has extensive experience lobbying for funding in her state, among other talents. We are excited to welcome her to Buckeye country,” says SPL’s Board of Trustees.

Shaw started as Treasurer for the library system in 1986 before quickly adding the title of Operations Manager and eventually Director. Holding both an MBA and MLIS, Shaw’s financial acumen and careful stewardship has helped SPL not only weather several major economic downturns and cuts to funding during his tenure but also grow exponentially. During his years as Director, SPL passed its first ever successful levy, which voters renewed this past April, built a new Grove City Library in partnership with the City of Grove City, and expanded Westland Area Library.

“I am unsure where the library would be today without Mark’s financial acumen, keen ability to gather people in support of SPL, and all the sheer hard work and determination he put into promoting SPL’s value to the community,” says Michele Lowe, Assistant Director of the Westland Area branch of SPL. “The work he has done here during his 35 years of service has had a major impact on the organization and will not be forgotten.”

Wickham will spend time with Shaw before his departure to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

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Stay tuned for farewell reflections from current Director Mark Shaw as well as an introduction from incoming Director Meredith Wickham.

Library Hours

Sun: Closed
Mon, Tue, Fri, Sat      10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed-Thur 12:00 PM - 7:00 PM

 

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Grove City Library

3959 Broadway
Grove City, OH 43123
(614)-875-6716

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Westland Area Library

4740 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43228
(614)-878-1301

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