Colleen McCrea takes helm as head of the library
To say Colleen McCrea is familiar with the Westbury Memorial Public Library is an understatement. The new director of the library has spent the last 30 years working there, spending the early days of her career as a clerk when she and her husband were living on Livingston Street in Westbury.
“I always felt like it was a cool place to work,” McCrea said. “I loved being surrounded by books and getting to know the patrons. And I still do.”
McCrea went from clerk, to librarian, then head of the children’s library for four years, before becoming an assistant director in 2010. Having worked in almost every area of the library has given her an advantage as she takes on her new role.
“Cathleen [Towey Merenda, the former director] had given me a lot of experiences and challenges to work in different departments, that’s how I grew in the position,” McCrea said. “Every challenge I’ve had, I’ve enjoyed. Even though I’ve been here a long time, I’ve had many different roles.”
Going from her early days as clerk to being the library’s top administrator has been a “180 degree turn,” said McCrea. Her newest title involves more administrative duties and decision making than her former role as assistant director, but she’s embracing the change with the support of the staff and community members.
“It’s an honor to serve as the director,” McCrea said. “I want to do a good job. I work as a collaborative team member with my staff and I want to continue that and work in a positive way with all the board members.”
McCrea said her first priority as director is building relationships with the community. Having worked at the library for 30 years, she said she’s familiar with many of the library’s regulars and has seen many of the changes the community has undergone.
“This community is very special and so diverse. I enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds and getting to know the different populations,” McCrea said. “It’s been amazing to see the community evolve.”
In the next few months, patrons can also expect to see a redesigned library website as well as a new garden at the children’s library. McCrea said the library staff has also been looking into how to display the children’s collection, which is currently in the basement and includes antique dolls, books and artifacts dating back to the 1920s that were donated to Robert Bacon, his wife and the community.
She said the library staff is always looking to introduce new services patrons will enjoy and in the future, she wants to see the library become more of a community center.
“We want to be open to organizations coming in to use the library,” McCrea said. She noted that the library staff was passionate about providing an environment where people of all ages could learn—whether it was through a book, an event or special program.
“The goal of me and the staff is to establish residents as lifelong learners, so they know they can always come to the library for help,” McCrea said.