NMU welcomes alumna, 2019 Librarian of the Year

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Staff and visitors at the Lydia Olson Library on the campus of Northern Michigan University welcomed a special guest to close out the homecoming weekend.

Skye Patrick graduated from NMU in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

She currently serves as the Director of the Los Angeles County Library and was named Librarian of the Year for 2019.

She returned to her Alma Mater to give a special presentation at NMU’s 14th annual UNITED Conference. UNITED is NMU’s diversity conference scheduled to take place this coming Monday and Tuesday in the Northern Center ballrooms.

Patrick directs 87 libraries, 1500 staff members and controls a budget of $200M. That may sound like a lot of money but according to Patrick, it's not enough. She says in today’s world, libraries face two challenges.

"The general the issue with libraries is innovating and becoming the library of the future. That means ensuring that we have the kinds of information and the kinds of programs that matter for the future. Funding is also an issue. You see this in universities and in public libraries. So I don't think it's different here versus a city like Los Angeles. It's really about scalability," Patrick declared.

Patrick adds that for libraries, survival is about much more than reading and traditional literacy.

"Understand that the field is in constant change. Most of our work really has to do with leveraging our resources and empowering people. Today there is a huge need and opportunity to have different types of literacy represented in the library. So we do a lot of STEAM programming. We have financial literacy. We have people who speak different languages. So it’s about understanding what your community needs and then programming to that,” Patrick asserted.

Patrick says she’s looking forward to presenting at NMU’s UNITED Conference. She also added that she’s glad she had enough free time to stroll down memory lane after 23 years away.

"So I got to go out to Little Presque and go places where I used to ride my bike. I went all through campus. Not of it looks the same. It's a completely different place from the 90s, which is a good thing. I'm fortunately here to see some of the trees beginning to turn colors. That' probably one of the things I miss the most about living in the Midwest," Patrick concluded.

Click here to visit the LA County Library's website.