2017-09-01 / In the Know

Community celebrates director’s 40th year at Scarborough library

By B. Michael Thurlow and Anne Janak
Special to the Leader


Maine State Librarian James Ritter congratulated Nancy Crowell on her 40th anniversary as Scarborough’s library director. (Courtesy photo) Maine State Librarian James Ritter congratulated Nancy Crowell on her 40th anniversary as Scarborough’s library director. (Courtesy photo) Last week dozens of members of the Scarborough community attended a reception to recognize and honor the 40 years Nancy Crowell has been library director.

Nancy started her career in Scarborough in 1977, right after graduating from college, at the library’s original location on Black Point Road next to the Congregational Church. Although she went to school and lived on the West Coast and other locations, she always came back to her family roots in Maine each summer at the annual family reunion held at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth. When she saw the opening for a full-time (albeit only 30 hours/week) position near her family she took it and she has never left.

Nancy has been an innovator throughout her career working tirelessly to make the library relevant and indeed a critical facility and resource within our community. When she started her career, our town had a population of approximately 7,000, the library was open 36 hours per week and circulation totaled 33,276. Compare that with today when our population is approximately 20,000, the library is open 55 hours per week, (including Sundays 10 months of the year) and circulation is over 205,000. During the past 40 years the library’s collection size has increased from 10,000 to 100,000 and now includes books, media, e-books, and e-audio.

Over the years, Nancy has mentored over 155 staff members and has been a leader in developing a new shared borrowing system along with South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Gorham, and Westbrook where one library card is honored at any of these five libraries. In the late-80s Nancy worked diligently with the Friends of the Library, local businesses, citizens, and visitors to launch a major capital fundraising campaign to replace the old library with the modern one we all know today on the municipal campus. That project became a reality in 1990, and now, 27 years later, she is gearing up for a much needed expansion of the facility to meet today’s needs and extensive use.

As a member of the town’s senior leadership team, Nancy brings a unique and experienced voice to our deliberations. She is the epitome of a team player who is always there to support another department or town initiative. Through her ongoing work in the emergency management field she has once again demonstrated how local libraries can be critical facilities during and after natural or man-made disasters. She is constantly preaching personal preparedness and business continuity planning, was instrumental in our community resiliency program, has helped staff emergency shelters, organized local volunteers following disasters, and she often offers the library as a warming or cooling station when severe weather dictates.

Nancy is one of those unique individuals who brings a wealth of experience and institutional knowledge to her work, coupled with a commitment and dedication to the organization that is so very rare today. There are very few people who commit and contribute to any organization for their entire career like Nancy has.

Please join us in saluting Nancy Crowell for 40 years of dedicated, professional and visionary service to the citizens and visitors of Scarborough.

B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough. Anne Janak is president of Scarborough Library Trustees.

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