published Saturday, March 17th, 2012

New chief takes helm of Chattanooga public library

by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    Corinne Hill, interim executive director of the Dallas Public Library, speaks during a media event at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas in 2011. Hill has accepted a position as executive director of the Public Library in Chattanooga, library officials confirmed.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Personal Glance

* Name: Corinne Hill

* Age: 49

* Personal: Married for 24 years

* Education: Master's degree of science in information from the University of North Texas

* Hobbies: Loves to travel

Corinne Hill, the new executive director of The Public Library, has taken over the reins of the Chattanooga facility.

Hill came from Dallas, where she served as interim director of the Dallas Public Library. Now as she tackles Chattanooga's public library system, she is facing budget planning, dealing with limited technology and trying to expand the library's collection.

Q: What's your impression of the library so far?

A: There's a lot of work to be done. ... Internet speed I'm really concerned about. It's really slow to the public and the staff. ... I've been working really closely with the city's IT department; they are actually here right now, and they are studying our connection to make sure our access isn't like a dial-up connection. I'm just astounded at how slow it is. That's been a big priority for me since I've been here.

We're going to get the fountain [in front of the library] fixed. It's coming up on spring. That's just a nice feature. It's too pretty to be dry.

I got to go out and see the building that's going to be the new library branch at Northgate.

Q: When do you think construction will begin?

A: We're just now talking about design. Speaking from my experience in design, it can be different at different places; I've seen it take as long as nine to 12 months. I've been asking for the notes from the community meetings to see how the community wants that library to look. I want to get a really good feel for what the public wants out there because it's their building. I've been given the responsibility to bring it along, but it's their building.

Q: Do you have money for design at this point?

A: We have $750,000 right now in capital and we're asking for another $250,000 in capital next year, which will bring us to $1 million. So we have design money.

I went out there and looked. She's not a beauty. But it's a lot more solid than it looks from the outside. I've been involved in some renovations that you can't even tell what it was after. I've worked in some libraries in grocery stores and they weren't grocery stores after. Renovations can be really dramatic.

Q: What are you looking at in the future?

A: I've been working on the budget presentation for next week. So far, it is looking pretty flat. But hey, I'll take flat. We really need a strategic plan. Collections are big for me. Hey, give the public what they want. This is a public library. We need things that are relevant to the people we serve and relevant to the people of Chattanooga. We're looking at popular materials, practical things -- gardening books, cookbooks, bestsellers and that sort of thing -- and I don't believe in making people wait. Or if you don't wait, you make people pay. We need to work on that.

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