Library gets new assistant director

Published 2:47 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2014

After a year as the outreach services manager for Suffolk Public Library, Sarah Townsend is excited to begin her new role as assistant director of libraries next week.

“I’ve really grown to love Suffolk and the Suffolk library system,” Townsend said.



In her short time with the library system, Townsend has radically transformed the outreach services of the library. She initiated the Pop-Up Library to expand the library’s presence all over the city at public events and gathering spots.

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She also is the project manager for the library’s participation in the Libraries Transforming Communities initiative, an 18-month community engagement training program that is a partnership between the American Library Association and the Harwood Institute and funded through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The library is doing a lot of great things, and I wanted to be an even bigger part of that,” Townsend said. “This job opportunity, I think, will let me be more of a leader in where we’re going in the future, so it was kind of an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Before coming to Suffolk’s library system, Townsend was the staff training and digital resources coordinator in the Norfolk Public Library system. Also while in Norfolk, she served as a branch manager for several locations and as youth services manager for the Pretlow Anchor Branch in Ocean View.

A native of Michigan, Townsend first came to Virginia because her husband was going to graduate school at Old Dominion University.

She has plenty of experience in graduate school herself, holding two master’s degrees — one in library science from the University of Michigan and one in English from Kansas State University.

She is an active member of the American Library Association and is on the board of the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Her expanded duties will include assisting the library director, Clint Rudy, in planning, organizing, monitoring and directing the day-to-day operations of the library system.

“I know that a big part of my job is going to be coordinating and being in charge of the public services side of things, so I’m really looking forward to working with our managers and all of our front-line staff so we can provide even better services and expand what we’re offering to the public,” Townsend said.