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A mover and shaker

Posted Feb. 9, 2015
Reprinted from InterCom (pdf)
By Savannah Strom, senior public relations major 

Armed with only a laptop and one remarkable vision, Susan Lyon led the digital information movement at Richland Library into the 21st Century. 

As learning engagement manager at the Richland Library in Columbia, it’s her job to create learning opportunities that engage staff and customers in innovative ways.

Charged with such a task, she’s forced to get creative.

That’s exactly what she did when in an effort to create community buzz about the library’s digital information and e-book offerings, she began taking the library to customers.

It’s work that recently earned this 2006 School of Library and Information Science alumna an international honor as a Mover and Shaker in the library industry from Library Journal, the profession’s lead trade publication.

“It means stopping and being thankful for the awesome situation that I have,” Lyon said. “I could not have dreamed for a better scenario.”

Her project started with “eReady takeovers” in 2011, which still happen today. She and Richland Library volunteers and staff stage one-hour takeovers of local cafes and restaurants to teach customers how to access the library’s digital information, including e-books, e-magazines and downloadable music.

They even teach customers how to use personal devices. Lyon says that it is the library’s job to prove its relevance in this technological age.

Discovering my library's e-book collection helped me reconnect with the power of the library card I felt when I was  young. Geoffrey Fowler, Wall Street Journal

In 2014, the library had over 250,000 e-book checkouts. That’s a huge increase, as there were only 11,585 e-book checkouts in 2011. Her effort also sparked an entire eReady movement, which now has its own staff of more than 50 employees and volunteers.

The e-book collection has expanded so much that Wall Street Journal writer Geoffrey Fowler, a Richland County native, commented on the powerful effect of Richland Library's e-book collection in an August article.

The annual Mover and Shaker edition of Library Journal, released in March, features 50 librarians who are passionate about what libraries can do to improve people's lives.  She was commended for "cultivating a culture of experimentation" for Richland Library.  Lyon says she does not take the international recognition for granted.

She says that she is especially grateful for her education and her classes at SLIS, which prepared her for the challenges and library transformations she has tackled. “I think it is really about gratitude for my colleagues, the place that I work and then, of course, the experiences that have been made available to me through my time at SLIS,” Lyon said. From SLIS, she learned the most important lesson of all: “the philosophy of being willing to learn new things and remaining open in times of change.” 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.