Donna Howell at Mountain Regional Library
serves several counties including Union County
Ms. Donna W. Howell was recently hired as Director of the Mountain Regional Library System. She also worked there as Assistant Director for the past 15 years. When the position of Director became open, her promotion was not guaranteed. The Board of Directors conducted a nation wide search and Ms. Howell was one of eleven people chosen to interview for the position.
Born in Murphy, North Carolina, Ms. Howell graduated from Andrews High School. She attended Tri-County Community College, then finished her Bachelor's degree at Western Carolina University. Ms. Howell received her Master's at Louisiana State and her Specialist in Library Information Science at University of South Carolina.
Ms. Howell's first library job was as driver of the book mobile at Natahala Regional Library. The Director of that library at the time, Ms. Martha Palmer, encouraged her to continue her education in Library Science, so off she went to Western Carolina. There Ms. Howell worked for the University Library in the Special Collections and Appalachian's Archives. While at LSU, she worked as Government Documents and Business Services Librarian. After completing her education, Ms. Howell took a position at University of Georgia in Government Documents before being offered the position as Assistant Director in 1990 at Mountain Regional Library. She jumped at the chance to move back to the mountains with her husband, Steve. After years of working in an academic library setting, she was glad to be back working on a local level.
Ms. Howell has exciting plans for the Mountain Regional Library System. She hopes to expand the library space in Union County and at Headquarters in Young Harris. Hopefully there will be additions for a community room and a Friends of the Library Bookstore. "The Friends of the Library are wonderful. Their contributions have paid for half of the new books we bought last year. I want to thank Jean Craig in Union County, Jan Roberts in Towns County, and Sarah Granda in Fannin County. The Friends of the Library help raise awareness in the community. Their work helps pay for repairs and summer programs."
Ms. Howell says that the most important part of library service is the people, "Our staff means everything. Without them, all the books and computers wouldn't be worth much." She says that the biggest challenge is funding. As an example, "In Fannin County, library use has gone up 129% but there's been no increase in funding for six years! Gas, insurance, everything goes up except funding." Ms. Howell says that citizens in Union County are lucky. "Commissioner Paris has been a great help. He sent Detention Center workers to help when the library was flooded. He is a generous man in many ways."
Ms. Howell is a busy lady. She is currently balancing the multiple duties of Director, Assistant Director, and Technology Librarian. She is currently looking to fill the position of Technology Librarian. This person will be in charge of 90 computers, networking, inter-library loans, the Web site, and helping train staff members.
Ms. Howell recently attended a training session in Macon, Georgia. There she learned about expectations at the State level, library law, and policies and procedures. Ms. Howell is definitely qualified. Union, Towns, and Fannin Counties are lucky to have her as the new Director of the Mountain Regional Library!