Long-time trustee steps down from library board

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 28, 2009

Another of the Lincoln County Public Library’s long-timeservants is turning in his keys to the front door and steppingaside to a well-deserved retirement.

William Crawford, a 39-year trustee who first joined the boardin 1970, is the latest veteran trustee to pass the torch to ayounger generation. His retirement paves the way for the libraryboard to undergo a total transformation, with Dr. Russell Burnshaving retired earlier this year and Tom Moak – a 50-year member -expected to step down when his term ends next year.

“It has been a wonderful experience for me, and I hope I left animprint there,” Crawford said. “I think younger ideas are better,and it’s time to move on.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Crawford said he plans to spend his retirement doing “about what(he’s) been doing – as little as possible.” He’s spent the last 39years doing much and more to grow the library.

When Crawford became a trustee in 1979, the library had recentlymoved into its current location from a small pair of rooms in theformer city hall, now the chamber of commerce. The move in itselfwas a giant leap for the library, but with help from Crawford andthe board, much more growth and expansion was carried out.

Today, the library is arguably one of the most successfulorganizations in Brookhaven, and it continues to grow. Libraryofficials told supervisors earlier this week that more than 110,000people visited the library in 2008, an increase of 23,000 in threeyears. In 2009, circulation increased by 400 items per month andthe summer reading program for children was record-breaking.

The library’s success through the years is built onrelationships, Crawford said.

“The thing that made it so enjoyable was that we had people whowere dedicated to the advancement of the library, and almosteverything was done by consensus,” he said. “You run into that whenyou have people whose main purpose is what’s best for the library.I don’t remember having a division on anything.”

Looking back on the library’s many improvements, Crawford saidhe is most proud of the facility’s work in seeking and preservinglocal history and genealogy.

“The library plays a pretty good part for people who come hereseeking information on their families,” he said. “There’s a finecollection of genealogical material, and it’s proven by the use itgets.”

Library director Henry Ledet said Crawford has been a shepherdfor the library’s local history and genealogical archives, praisingthe retiring trustee for helping preserve the story of thecommunity.

“No place else in the world is going to collect the history ofour area,” Ledet said. “We are the ones who are interested in that,and it’s really important for us to remember our history. Mr.Crawford has been very supportive in creating the archives wehave.”

Though always sad to see a wise hand like Crawford step down,Ledet said he is enthusiastic about the younger minds now sittingon the board of trustees.

Local attorney Will Allen, who was appointed to the board Mondayby the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors upon trustees’recommendation, said he is excited to step in and serve the libraryas it has long served him.

“I grew up going to that library. My mom took me as a child tostory time when I was 3 or 4, and I’ve had a library card my wholelife,” he said. “Now, I take my kids down there almost everySaturday.”

Allen said his first order of business as a trustee would be tolearn from the members around him and promote the library’s vastresources.

“You won’t find me burning any books,” he said.