Midstate Profile: Library director helps with behind-the-scenes work

MECHANICSBURG — It takes all kinds of people’s strengths to successfully run a group dedicated to helping the community, Sue Erdman said.


Erdman, library director at the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, should know. She’s a part of a handful of such groups and was the second person to receive the Downtown Mechanicsburg Partnership’s Person of the Year award last month. The award is given to individuals who have provided service to their community through volunteering.


“I was selected because of my role in the community as the library director,” Erdman said. “We’re a very visible location, we have a lot of usage, we provide a lot of educational programs for people, and it’s an important part of the community. The other piece of it was for some volunteer service I have provided over the years (with several organizations)."


The library is not the only place Erdman spends her time. She works with a group at her church, is a Rotarian and volunteers with the Downtown Mechanicsburg Partnership and the Mechanicsburg Chamber of Commerce. While she has held positions on the boards of those organizations, Erdman said she prefers to write, edit and put materials together, than be the face in the community.


“I’m more of your behind the scenes person putting things together versus being out in front, which is a challenge with the role that I have as library director,” she said. “I am required to be out in front of the public — that is part of the job. But I’m equally happy working in the background to make an event run smoothly.”


Erdman said she really loved how the 2011 campaign celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Simpson library turned out. She said there were so many events and that it was so much fun.


“We had a year-long series of events to celebrate,” she said. “It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun. It raised awareness of the library and brought people in, and we started some events that year that we are now continuing each year — one of those being our summer reading program kick-off.”


While being the library director is technically her day job, Erdman said she doesn’t feel like it’s work because she loves it so much. It’s important to her for the library to be a part of the community and help people find resources.


“In the age of the Internet, there are people out there who say that libraries are going to die, that we don’t need libraries,” she said. “It is a challenge to make people aware of the resources that are here that can’t be found on the Internet, that the library is still a vibrant and thriving place.”


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