North Point Library welcomes new manager
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 11:00

Bradford comes to Dundalk from Glen Burnie

by John G. Bailey

    The North Point Public Library has a new branch manager: Joanie Bradford has replaced Lisa Hughes, who is now branch manager at the county library system’s Towson branch.
    Born in Annapolis and raised in Serverna Park, Bradford currently resides in Rosedale. No stranger to public libraries, she left a job at the North County Library in Glen Burnie to work in Dundalk. She started her library career at the Brooklyn Park branch.
    “I was just thrilled when I learned I’d be working at North Point Library,” she recalls. “Some of the most fulfilling times in my career have been in communities much like Dundalk.”
    Bradford is well aware of the demise of the steel industry and the ramifications on an already-stressed local economy. “Difficult times are when people need the library the most,” she explains. “Although the library is still and always will be a resource for pleasure reading and lifelong learning — at least for me — the increase in public library use for job searching and employment support has been huge.”
   

As even the most infrequent library customer can attest, information technology has transformed public libraries over the past three decades. “In looking for work as in many other endeavors, the Internet and information data bases have greatly improved our ability to instantly meet the needs of our customers,” she notes. “Still, one of the biggest challenges for me as a general manager is to balance everyone’s needs with the available resources in a fair and equitable way.”
    The demands on those resources is growing at the North Point Library. In fiscal year 2012, which ended in June, 342,745 patrons visited the branch — nearly 1,000 visitors a day.
    They boosted circulation — the number of items checked out — to 526,764, an increase of 0.7 percent over 2011. The circulation in Mobile Library Services, which operates out of North Point, increased by 7.6 percent.
    While demand for services increases, library funding remains subject to the vargaries of the economy. Having a manager and staff in tune with customers helps with this square peg-round hole conundrum. “I’ve found that public library systems are very good at using what they learn from customers to service the public effectively.”
    Asked to share an anecdote that would show Eagle readers what kind of person she is as a professional, she recalls an elderly couple at an Anne Arundel County library some years ago. “They came to the library several times a week and I grew very attached to them. We looked forward to sharing our latest literary finds with each other.”
    No Luddite at work or at home, Bradford has both Kindle and Nook eReaders and uses them, especially when traveling. “But for me nothing will ever quite replace the feel of a book in my hands. A box full of new books arriving at the library is like Christmas morning to me.”
    Something else besides the branch manager is new at North Point Library: a mural in the children’s section is now complete. The depiction of sea creatures along an entire 70-foot wall was the work of BCPL’s graphic production department.
    And for area residents who don’t watch football all Sunday afternoon, Sunday hours at the library will resume on Oct. 7, from 1 to 5 p.m.