Honoring Excellence

October 2012

Libraries don't just offer the hardware, but also the expertise of librarians in helping teach people how to use the Internet and find the information they need quickly.

Each day of the week, as well as on weekends, the Mathews Memorial Library opens its doors to begin a day of meeting the many and varied needs of its nearly 10,000 patrons and numerous visitors. Some come to check out books; large number use computers, but many come because they enjoy the sense of community that pervades the warm, inviting atmosphere of the library. This daily challenge is almost always met. Those who make this possible are the staff and volunteers who are constantly striving to ensure the library achieves its mission and more. Both the staff and volunteers are well known in the community, but recognition of their dedication and hard work is sometimes overlooked.

The library has a staff of five full-time staff, five part-time and twelve volunteers. Each has a specific role to fulfill, but success depends on a tremendous amount of sharing and working together. Looking at the skills of each, one understands how this spirit of working together is so effective. Through this and future issues of the Friends' newsletter, I will share information about these individuals and their contribution to the library.

More and more daily activities in the library depend on its complex technology environment. Greg Lewis, the soft spoken and patient Head of Technology Services is never overwhelmed when it comes to providing the needed support. Whether restoring a network, assisting a patron with a problem or downloading an ebook onto a reader, he presents a spirit of helpfulness that puts everyone at ease. Greg is equally on top of the game when answering questions about the library collection or searching through the numerous databases for obscure facts or lengthy treatises on a pet subject. His tenure with the library began as a part-time endeavor in 1996. In 2002, it was recognized that Greg could be a more valuable asset on a full-time basis and thus was named to the position of Head of Technical Services. He received his bachelor's degree from Mary Washington College (now University of Mary Washington), majoring in geography and graduating in 1992. Thought by many to be a confirmed bachelor, he found his lifetime partner at the library in 2008 when he married Leigh Wilder, and both now reside on Gwynn's Island.

Perhaps Greg's greatest challenge comes during events such as "Deck the Hall" when, in the past, he has been gently coerced into portraying a variety of roles, ranging from Santa to the Nutcracker. On other occasions he has filled in as Dr. Seus's "Cat in the Hat" and Count Olaf of Lemony Snicket fame. Whatever the challenge, Greg approaches it in good humor and with a great deal of enthusiasm, as he does all aspects of his multi-faceted role.

Those most in danger of being left behind in the Information Age are most in need of assistance from professionals like Greg, whether it be using a mouse, establishing an email account, filling out government forms online, using new software or effectively navigating Internet resources.

Like Greg, all Mathews Memorial Library staff and volunteers are at work in the literacy trenches, taking books and effective programs directly into the lives of children, parents, grandparents, childcare providers, and educators.