Shurden ready for final chapter of long career
by Rory Doyle
Apr 08, 2013 | 1431 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After 35 years of improving libraries across Mississippi, Bolivar County Library System Director Lynn Shurden is nearly complete with the final chapter in her storied career.

The Bolivar County native, who's directed the system's branches for five years, will be retiring at the end of April.

Shurden said it would be tough leaving her office at the Robinson-Carpenter Memorial Library in Cleveland, the site of her first public storytelling as a library science student at Delta State University.

"I've been involved with libraries since 1978," Shurden said. "It's going to be difficult to step away."

When she took over the county's system in 2008, Shurden agreed to a minimum four-year commitment.

"I told the board at least four years and they got an extra year out of me," joked Shurden. "I knew this would be my swan song."

The five years seem miniscule compared to the 21 years she served as a library consultant for the state system, allowing her to visit and correspond with all of Mississippi's 250 libraries.

Shurden has also been a librarian at the school, prison and college levels and worked on a federal committee tracking library statistics.

One of the goals coming to Bolivar County was to improve staff development and education opportunities, a move that leaves Shurden confident the library will continue to advance.

"We're in really good shape here," she said. "Educating our staff was a major thing and I have a lot of confidence that everyone will succeed at their jobs.

"The main thing is to keep the staff educated because technology at the library changes so quickly."

Assistant Director Linda Kern will serve as the interim until a new leader is named by June or earlier.

Another objective was to make sure all the branches were equipped with the same services, a process that was time consuming and challenging.

"My biggest goal was to make sure the system was legal," said Shurden. "I had to step on some toes to do this — but I'd do it all over again."

Shurden said the overall support along the way has been a major factor.

"So many people have been supportive — especially the Friends (of the BCLS) board and the administrative board. I couldn't have done it without their help."

She also attributed the community backing through the years

"The city of Cleveland and Bolivar County helped so much when the state cut funds," she said. "They need to be thanked for providing the financial support."

While Shurden will no longer be leading the way, she remains confident that partnerships with DSU, Bologna Performing Arts Center, Delta Arts Alliance and city leaders will keep the system's core strong.

She also gave a special thanks to former Bolivar County Library Director LaPointe Smith, along with Jane Smith and Sharmon Smith at the state level.

Adjusting to the ever-changing world of libraries, Shurden has learned quite a bit in her career, and she envisions a promising future for the state's libraries.

"We have wonderful libraries in Mississippi. I'm very proud," said Shurden.

For the meantime, she looks forward to upcoming travels, spending more time with family, friends and church members, participating in the Woman's Club and Garden Club and even sleeping in.

She will carry out her roles as the president of the Mississippi Library Association and public library state data coordinator until at least the end of 2013.

Contact the Bolivar County Library System at 662-843-2774 to inquire about an application for the position.