05/25/14 — Branch manager takes reins at Steele Memorial Library

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Branch manager takes reins at Steele Memorial Library

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on May 25, 2014 1:50 AM

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Jerilyn Lee poses in front of what will soon be the newly opened Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive. Mrs. Lee will be the library's new branch manager.

MOUNT OLIVE -- Jerilyn Lee, former regional human resources manager with UniFirst, has been named as the new Steele Memorial Library's branch manager.

Mrs. Lee, formerly retired, had applied for a page position at the library, but when she arrived for the interview, officials were more interested in her background in management.

"I had retired and had not really thought about returning for work," she said. "I was just looking for something to do to fill some free time."

Mrs. Lee had formerly worked with UniFirst for 37 years and managed the Southeast region, which covered 23 different plants.

Most recently, she served two terms as the president of the Mount Olive Historical Society and is currently on the University of Mount Olive Board of Trustees.

"The reason we hired her is because she was the strongest candidate, and we were delighted that she came from a management position," library director Donna Phillips said. "We wanted someone with a good strong management background."

Although Mrs. Lee doesn't come with a librarian's training, she's knowledgeable about doing research as a member of the historical society, and she is very well-known throughout the community.

"She has a proven track record as a community leader. She has a network in the Mount Olive community, and that's a plus for us. She brings that to the job as well," Mrs. Phillips said.

Mrs. Lee's duties will fulfill day-to-day management operations to make sure that the library has what it needs to run efficiently. Currently, that means making sure that the library is ready to expand its summer reading programs when the library makes its official move from the its current building on Chestnut Street to the much larger former Belk building at the corner of Chestnut and Main streets.

Mrs. Lee will only be working 32 hours a week. The interim branch manager, Melanie Powell, will move into an assistant branch manager role working full time.

Mrs. Lee's annual salary will be $29,769. She has been working with the library since April 29.

"We want to expand on a lot of the programs we already have. Right now, the summer reading program will be the focus," she said. "We're working on expanding services to seniors, providing them a quiet place to read, installing several banks of computers for young people and expanding the selection we have in fiction, non-fiction and reference -- just making it a comfortable and open place so more people can enjoy the benefits of having a library."

The library will also receive additional staff and an expanded budget when it reopens later this summer. Both a reference librarian and children's librarian will be hired. Additional staff will be determined depending on the budget given to the facility.

Eventually, the library should serve as a regional library to Wayne, Duplin and Sampson counties, Mrs. Lee said.

Construction on the old Belk building, ongoing since October, should be finished be the beginning of June, and the new building's tentative open date has been scheduled for mid-July. The added time is due to some furniture delays.

"We're excited about the new venture. We're really excited about bringing the world of reading into a much more state-of-the-art facility."