Brand new chapter

By on May 1, 2019

Alabama native named new director of Lititz Public Library

After a lengthy search, The Lititz Public Library has chosen Ryan McCrory as their new director.

You could say that McCrory, who assumed his new position April 29, has had a long fascination with books — in fact, his very first job was at his elementary school’s library in first grade.

“My school librarian taught me the Dewey Decimal System so that I could help shelve books,” he said.

“I also helped prepare materials for her class visits. So I’ve been doing this awhile.”

Later, his teacher persuaded his mother to buy him a set of World Book Encyclopedias to satisfy her son’s love of reading and curiosity.

Prior to Lititz, he served as the director for the Boone Area Library in Birdsboro, Berks County. Growing up outside of Huntsville, Alabama, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, his early passion for books came from a unique place — when he was five, he received a comic book from a local restaurant. The subject featured the Battle of Hampton Roads between the Monitor and Merrimack. McCrory cherished the book, and soon fell in love with history.

“When I moved into the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle, I dove into the old maps and census records of the area from 1880-1920 to understand the history and culture of my new home,” he said.

“My county library had a heritage room which housed all sorts of census records and indexes which were invaluable to me when I got into genealogy around the age of 12,” he added.

“I spent hours in my local library just poring over words which took me to every place and time in history.”

First trained as a historian, he would go on to earn his masters in history from the University of Alabama. Later, he attended the University of Washington to achieve his PhD.

He would then teach for several years before deciding he didn’t want to remain in academia. But his passion for history never subsided.

Lititz Library New Director Ryan McCrory

“Even as a student, as a historian, all through my life, I’ve spent more time in libraries and with books than anywhere or anything else,” he admits. “My personal library is between 1,500 and 2,000 books and they are in Library of Congress order.”

Later, as a grad student, he took a job at the University of Washington Libraries to make extra money. This would turn into an entry level staff position. Eventually, he became manager of the Undergraduate Library.

“We had 10,000 patrons a day, 2 million visitors a year,” he said. “I felt a little stifled, kind of in a rut, at a standstill of sorts and began looking for other jobs in public service, non-profit type positions.”

Unfortunately, this decision happened to take place in the middle of the recession. However, he would find an entry level position at his neighborhood branch of the Seattle Public Library.
Over the next five years, he would work his way up again, but eventually relocated to Pennsylvania to be closer to his son. In the process, he also took the job as director of the Boone Area library.

That move would help him understand working within a federated library system. Then the position in Lititz would become available. After doing some research on the area, he decided that another great opportunity was on the horizon.

“I am excited about bringing the experience that I have to help benefit the fabulous staff that are already here doing great work,” he said. “I’m looking to find out what the community wants and needs from their library, and doing what I can to bring those things to bear.”

Along the way, he’s looking forward to getting to know the area; and to no surprise, its history as well. When asked, the new director cites Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig as one work that left a profound impact on his life.

“I came to it very late, but at the right moment for me,” he said. “I was at a crossroads with regards to my future in academia, what and where I wanted to do next. I reread it whenever I find myself in those moments of introspection.”

He also points to James Lee Burke as a favorite author.

“I enjoy his writing style. His language is very evocative in describing the landscape.”

“One of the first things I do when moving anywhere new is to dive into the local history,” he said. I’m very much a contextual thinker, looking at the past to understand both the present situation and future opportunities.”

He’s also excited to meet members of the community via his open-door policy.

“I look forward to the opportunity this position presents, but I want to express to the community that I welcome getting to know them,” he said.

“Seeing them and hearing from them at the library will be a major component of my first few months here, and I aim to be as open and responsive as I can for them. They are the reason libraries exist, and the reason I am here.”

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

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