We spoke with Susan Drye, Associate Director of Administrative Services to the Nashville Public Library.
DES: What does your role entail as the Associate Director of Administrative Services to the Nashville Public Library and how long have you held this position?
Susan Drye: I have overseen the major operational aspects of what it takes to keep the Nashville Public Library running since September 2013. This includes finance and budgeting, human resources, facilities maintenance and development, security and safety and the delivery of library resources to 21 locations across Nashville each day. The key to my job is to set a standard for great customer service.
Nashville Public Library is a very busy place that’s always moving: – keeping facilities and grounds maintained; running delivery routes and supporting 400-plus employees.
For example, last fiscal year, our Delivery division moved a daily average of 19,152 items to and from 21 locations around the county. In that same time, our patrons checked out just over 5 million items, and more than 3 million visitors came through our doors to attend more than 11,000 free classes, workshops, and events.
DES: Working in a place that is filled with thousands of books and offers so many learning opportunities, there is a lot to do. What would you say is your favorite part about your job?
Susan Drye: My passion point is helping people, especially kids. We offer so much for people of all backgrounds – the latest best sellers, a great collection of videos, programs for teens and more. I’m a mom of four, so I know one of the best things you can do for a child is to get him or her interested in reading and learning at an early age. It’s an adventure you teach children, which lasts a lifetime.
DES: What makes the Nashville Public Library special or unique when compared to other venues in Nashville?
Susan Drye: At the Nashville Public Library, everything is free, and all are welcome.
Benjamin Franklin said it succinctly when he said, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.” At a public library, those doors to wisdom never close.
DES: The library offers so many programs for children and adults. What is your favorite program offered in the Nashville Public Library?
Susan Drye: We have so many programs, and all are wonderful. As a kid at heart, I personally LOVE the puppet story-time shows. Our staff of professional puppeteers are so talented. I love every show they produce. The staff usually get to see a sneak preview of new shows before they debut, and it’s always exciting.
DES: What has been your favorite event to-date at the Nashville Public Library?
Susan Drye: The International Puppet Festivals are my favorite events. We just completed our third festival in June of 2016. We had more than 20,000 people come through the Main Library downtown during the three-day festival to see puppet shows and troupes from six different countries. It’s just astounding that we were able to attract so much talent from across the world, make the event appear seamless and our audiences had such a good time. All for free.
DES: What are the biggest challenges you and the Nashville Public Library face in the foreseeable future?
Susan Drye: We strive to stay in tune with the needs of the communities and neighborhoods we serve and also stay on top of current technology trends. We partner with many organizations and agencies to provide resources and opportunities Nashvillians want and need. We are constantly trying to figure out efficiencies in service to make our resources stretch farther. Our ultimate goal is to keep the city happy by providing compelling things to read, watch and listen; things to do; and places to go.
As with any government institution, funding is always a concern. There is a finite amount of money for public services to go around, and all services are worthy of consideration and funding.