In the 1980’s the Newark Library was a much different place than is found on the corner of Mason and High Street today. In one locked room was the library’s TRS80 model 2 computer that some library users were allowed access to after some initial training. Library employees were guaranteed the luxury of having dinner with their families as the library closed for the dinner hour. There was an intimacy in browsing the shelves that overflowed onto the floor because of a lack of space. Staff prepared books for the public in a closet off the children’s room. The board room was dimly lit with 35 watt bulbs. Big decisions lay ahead concerning adding a collection of movies. Should the library purchase Beta, or VHS?
Nearly 29 years ago, the library’s current director, Elly Dawson, began her work toward nearly three decades of change for the library to meet the needs of the Newark community. The library’s space has grown, the staff has grown, and the services have been expanded. While the decision to purchase VHS tapes was made, the present collection in DVD format and is growing to meet the huge demand.
That one lonely computer no longer represents the library’s technological base. The first to offer public access to the internet within the Pioneer Library System had five dial up connections dedicated to computers in 1995. This month, the library has also added an in-house loan of laptops to allow even more access and computer use for library users.
Throughout her career, Dawson was the recipient of numerous awards by her peers. The Pioneer Award for Library Services, the Ray Murray Award from the New York Library Assistant’s Association among them. She serves locally on the Wayne County Red Cross Board and chairs their annual 5K race. Dawson has also worked as a long time adjunct reference librarian at FLCC.
Changes in personnel have added new perspective and new energies throughout the years. Motivating staff to be all that they can be has encouraged personnel to continue their library careers toward assistant directorships in other libraries, authoring books, and one Newark Library staff person who went on to create a consultant firm that works with libraries across the country.
With the many changes Dawson has implemented and encouraged, her latest is in accepting a new position as the Director of the Victor Free Library. She begins her work there May 1st.
Dawson says of her new career move, “I have always promoted the good parts of change, no matter how challenging. The Newark Library is in a wonderful place where it can offer a new director an amazing opportunity to make the Newark Library an even better place for the community.” Dawson added, “The Newark Library is in the midst of a great facility plan that will allow the staff, community and board to beautify, enhance and create an amazing space that more clearly meets the needs of the library’s users. I look forward to seeing this magic happen.”
Dawson plans on remaining a community resident in Newark. The library will be hosting farewell reception for Dawson on Wednesday, April 24th from 4-6p.m. Community members are welcome to join Dawson for goodbyes and well wishes.