Chattanooga Public Library Executive Director Named 2014 Librarian Of The Year

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Corinne Hill, executive director of Chattanooga Public Library, has been named the 2014 Library Journal Librarian of the Year. Sponsored this year by Baker & Taylor, this annual award recognizes one individual transforming their library and community, and the profession. Ms. Hill is notable for her "quick and nimble transformation of the public libraries of the city of Chattanooga into the new and vibrant CPL." 

Ms. Hill, named an LJ “Mover & Shaker” in 2004, assumed the role of executive director in 2012 after city-hired consultants June Garcia and Susan Kent concluded that every aspect of the central library and its four branches needed repair and improvement. Since her arrival, Ms. Hill has been driving a culture of technological and organizational innovation. She has introduced many successful programs, including the Gig Library Project, offering one-gigabit-per-second fiber Internet service to all of its residents and businesses and provides downloads of ebooks and other materials—an initiative that puts front and center the library’s role in meeting the goals of Chattanooga as the Gig City.

Additionally, she oversaw the transformation of 14,000 square feet on CPL’s fourth floor that for years was used to store archives, decorative art, and extra furniture. Under the direction of Nate Hill, who Hill recruited to Chattanooga from his previous role as web librarian at the San José Public Library, it is now a laboratory and Maker space, full of cutting-edge equipment, including a high-resolution flatbed scanner and a 3D printer. 

“In just over a year, Corinne Hill has turned her library into a vital hub of learning and experimentation,” said Rebecca T. Miller, LJ’s editorial director. “She did it first by connecting to Chattanooga as a place, and responding to the city’s ambitions as a tech center. And, she did it by pulling in great librarians, and then setting them free to make magic. In the meantime, Hill has created a model for other librarians to watch, delivering great traditional services as she and her team test the cutting edge of library service. We are very pleased to name her the 2014 Librarian of the Year.”  

Ms. Hill attributes much of her success to the creative and talented team that she gathered from around the United States. These known innovators, including assistant director for technology and digital initiatives Nate Hill, teen librarian Justin Hoenke, youth service manager Alei Burns and systems administrator Meg Backus brought video games, programming tutorials, 3-D printing, rock music, and a new, up-to-date rendition of programs and services to citizens of all ages.  

“Honestly, I simply wanted to manage a library the way I had always wished I had been managed,” says Ms. Hill, with a laugh, when asked to describe her management style. “Coming up in this field, you get so tired of hearing ‘No,’ or ‘Let me tell you why that is not going to work,’ or ‘We tried that years ago; it didn’t work.’ ”

“Baker & Taylor is proud to support this award and Corinne’s amazing work in Chattanooga,” said George Coe, president of Baker & Taylor’s Library & Education division. “We appreciate all Corinne has done to support libraries and the industry, and value our partnership.”

The award is celebrated in a cover story in the January issue of the magazine and at a special reception during ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia, PA. Read the full story online.

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