librarian of the year 2018 Sandy Hester
State Librarian Julie Walker (left) and Sandy Hester, 2018 Georgia Public Librarian of the Year

Georgia’s 2018 Public Librarian of the Year is Sandy Hester, director of Coastal Plain Regional Library System

Sandy served as interim director in both the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Library and Coastal Plain Regional Library systems in 2018, as they merged into a single system to strengthen their libraries.

We asked Sandy about librarianship, her libraries’ services and what inspires her to do her best work.

GPLS: What inspires you every day?

SH: I’m inspired by the small things in life. You don’t have to do big things to make a difference in this world. Small things sometimes matter more, like helping a library user apply for a new job or venture into a new hobby, empowering a library employee to break out of their comfort zone and develop new skills or just convincing a reluctant reader that finding the right book will open the door to exciting new worlds. As librarians, we sometimes get to be on the front lines of major change, but we often miss it when we focus too much on the big.

GPLS: What programs are you most proud of?

SH: If I had to pick just one program, it would be the Prime Time Family Reading, which I have had the pleasure of being involved with for nearly 10 years. This program allows us the opportunity to break down barriers and make life-altering connections with families. This program isn’t simply about encouraging a child to read. It’s about transforming behaviors and thoughts about reading and learning. Children leave with an increased confidence in their ability to comprehend and really think about what they are reading. Parents leave Prime Time empowered to take a stronger role in their child’s education, and sometimes even their own.

GPLS: What do you enjoy about librarianship?

SH: Librarianship provides the perfect harmony between consistency and change. The fundamentals of public library services haven’t really changed for centuries but our methods, delivery and content are constantly evolving. I love working in a profession that maintains service to all as its core value, regardless of the specialty. Whether we are cataloging an item, planning a program, balancing the finances, upgrading technology or communicating our value to stakeholders, librarians are ultimately working toward one thing. We strive to get the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right format.

More Q & As with our Library Awards winners

Read A Conversation with Library Champion Dan Aldridge

Read Serving unique communities with diverse interests and needs: a conversation with Alison Weissinger