Making a library sparkle: Crotser-Toy brings enthusiasm to Watervliet library

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Sharon Crotser-Toy is the new Watervliet District Library director. She loves small libraries and a shorter commute to work. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

WATERVLIET — The new director of the Watervliet District Library wants to initiate community outreach and doesn’t believe libraries should be known as a quiet place anymore.

Sharon Crotser-Toy was named director of the the Watervliet Library in September and has been making it her own ever since.

From her love of small libraries to the home she had moved to in Lawrence, Crotser-Toy lives for books.

Herald-Palladium staff writer Tony Wittkowski sat with Crotser-Toy to discuss how she was fitting in at her new post in Watervliet, as well as how libraries have changed over time.

Since joining the Watervliet library, what have been your impressions so far?

I love it. I love small libraries, that’s where my heart is. My impression is that a lot of interesting things have been tried here. I love that the former director was willing to explore some new cataloging methods. The staff here is excellent and are committed to the community and are an absolute pleasure to work with.

What are your responsibilities as director?

Making the library sparkle, connecting the library with the community, forming partnerships within the community and helping us to be the best we can be.

What have you done before this?

I’ve worked in a variety of libraries. I’ve also worked in larger places like Western Michigan University. I was the interim director of the Allegan District Library. I was the assistant director there until the actual director left. However, I love that my current commute is a lot quicker.

Where are you from originally?

I live in Lawrence. I’ve lived there for many, many years. So, the commute from Lawrence to Allegan was extremely long.

What did you do at Western Michigan?

I worked at Waldo Library in the serial records department. That was back in the 1980s, so I’m not sure if that’s still a department there. I was fortunate enough to be hired there.

What made you want to come work at the Watervliet library?

First of all, it’s a small library, and I really do love small libraries. That and it was much closer to home. I feel like I grew up along the Red Arrow Highway corridor, so it feels like home to me.

What are some of the things you are hoping to change or alter at the library?

I think the main thing is I want to get our name out there a little more. We have recently produced our first newsletter since I began working here. I think that’s helping to spread the word about what we have and what we offer. We also want to get out of the library more and have an active role in the community.

What would you say would surprise most people about working at a library?

I think people have the impression that libraries are quiet places. That might have been the case 50 years ago. But today it certainly isn’t. We’re about meeting the community’s needs. That requires communication and collaboration. This is not a “shushing” library.

What’s something not many people know about you? Interesting hobby, unknown celebrity status?

I’m not sure how many people know this, but I live in an 1899 house that was moved from Kalamazoo to Lawrence. It was quite an undertaking. But that was back in 2002.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 30, 2017)

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