Phillip Carter
Starkville-Oktibbeha County Public Library System
Director

Tell us about your experience leading a change in your library and/or in your community.
In my current library system I took over for a longtime director who possessed a dated or “old school” approach to libraries. Upon taking over the role of director I began immediately communicating with community leaders, local stakeholders (including patrons, staff, friends of the library, and of course board members) and others within the community as to what they would like to see in their public library.

Taking that information I began to implement small, but immediate changes. Small changes to be more inclusive and equitable, joining the local chamber of commerce, setting up tents in our local farmers' market to sign patrons up for library cards, and joining our local coalition on poverty and homelessness.

Those efforts have been fruitful in beginning the process of reimagining what role a library can play in a community by our local legislators and that has in turn resulted in significantly increased funding (25% increase from the city, 20% increase from the county).

What is your mentoring philosophy & style?
I believe that I don't have all of the answers. I also believe that mentorship begins with honesty and knowing that I don't have all of the answers is the first step in that process. Creating an environment in which it is always safe to ask the question, whatever that question may be, is paramount. Growth and development comes not from knowing the answers to the problems and questions that surround us but from the pursuit of the answers and solutions. I look to be a guide in the search for the answers rather than an encyclopedia of facts and procedures that can be drawn from.

What else would you like a leadership mentee to know about you?
I'm a terrible librarian. I don't know what's on the best seller list, I couldn't tell you what John Grisham or James Patterson's newest book is.

I'm most firmly interested in community and partnership development and believe that public libraries are one of the most effective avenues with which to initiate change in our communities.

Areas of expertise
, Leading change in the library or the community, , , , , Policy, ,