Library Journal has named Director Corinne Hill its 2014 Librarian of the Year, keeping Chattanooga's library at the forefront in the world of public libraries.
The journal cited Hill's "quick and nimble" transformation of the library for the award, which annually honors one individual's work to transform her library, community and profession.
"In just over a year, Corinne Hill has turned her library into a vital hub of learning and experimentation," Rebecca T. Miller, LJ's editorial director, said in a news release. "She did it first by connecting to Chattanooga as a place, and responding to the city's ambitions as a tech center. And, she did it by pulling in great librarians, and then setting them free to make magic. In the meantime, Hill has created a model for other librarians to watch, delivering great traditional services as she and her team test the cutting edge of library service."
Hill, named a Library Journal "Mover & Shaker" in 2004, was named executive director in 2012 after city-hired consultants concluded that every aspect of the central library and its four branches needed repair and improvement, according to the news release.
Since taking the helm, Hill has ushered in an era of change and innovation that has affected nearly every aspect of the library. She recruited staffers from across the country, made sweeping changes to the library's collection and transformed the forgotten fourth floor of the main branch into a creative laboratory. The changes haven't gone unnoticed. Library Journal has referenced the renaissance on multiple occasions and library chiefs have made a slew of domestic and international appearances telling their story. Even Time magazine took note.
Hill has many more changes in store, including an overhaul of the downtown library's second-floor spaces for children and teens and a makeover of the South Chattanooga branch in St. Elmo.
"I'm really trying to create a library that the community wants," she said. "For me, it's always about the community, what they want, what they need. I want them to walk into any of our buildings and be proud."
While all transitions have bumps, Hill says her sweeping changes have mostly been supported by those both inside and outside the library. Her staff nominated her for the Librarian of the Year award.
"Chattanooga is extremely fortunate. Corinne makes libraries matter," said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. "In a world in which online plays a growing role, she has made sure that Chattanooga's libraries impact people's everyday lives."
Berke said Hill's leadership has energized the library over the last couple years.
"You hear people talking about the library as a place to go for innovation and discussion," the mayor said. "That's clearly the future for libraries and the industry recognized that by giving her this award."
Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6249.