Although she’s only five days into her new job, Mamaroneck Public Library Director Susan Riley is already brainstorming ideas about how to extend the library’s reach to the community as well as how to help make the process of downloading e-books a little less daunting for those who haven’t yet figured out the process.
Riley—who replaced Susan Benton, the director since 2005, after she retired—could not be called a novice, having spent over a decade as the director of the Mount Kisco Library. And, as it turns out, Mamaroneck was not the only village to have a library with an aging infrastructure in need of a facelift. Riley oversaw the two-year demolition and renovation of the Mount Kisco Library, which was completed in 2009.
“My goal was to finish the library there—I decided it was time to look for a new opportunity,” she said about the move.
The much anticipated $19.5 renovation and addition of the —which was financed through a combination of a $13 million, 25-year bond and $6.5 million in private funds—was completed over the summer, giving the Mamaroneck community access to a state-of-the-art 31,300 square foot facility many times larger then the cramped quarters at the temporary location.
With her Kindle Fire in hand, Riley said she hopes to expand the Mamaroneck Library’s collection of digital books through the cooperative Westchester Library System and potentially offer classes to those who may be intrigued by e-books and are even tech-savvy in other areas, but wary of the complexities a new device may present.
“It helps you if someone can help, step-by-step,” she said, citing the six-step downloading process involved with the library’s current e-book supplier, OverDrive.
In addition to e-books, some of Riley’s long-term goals for Mamaroneck include expanding staff over the next few years, developing more programs for children and teens, revamping the current website, obtaining more copies of best-selling books and encouraging more community use of the library’s program rooms.
And, not surprisingly for someone who spends her days surrounded by shelves stacked high with books, Riley is an avid reader. Her love of mystery novels goes back to her childhood, where one summer spent in Ireland was devoted to reading “all of Agatha Christie’s novels,” she said with a chuckle. She’s also published an extensive number of reviews of children’s novels in various library journals.
“When I was a new librarian I thought it would be a good professional activity,” she said of her first foray into writing for Voya, a journal for young adult librarians.
Since then, Riley has written for School Library Journal, Library Journal and even Just Frenchies, a journal for French Bulldog aficionados (she has two of her own).
For the moment, though, Riley is hoping that the community takes advantage of all the library has to offer.
“As more bookstores are closing, we hope that people will look at us.”