By REBECCA LEFTWICH | Jun. 06, 2019 – 3:19 PM
When Susan Crutchfield was growing up, she and her four sisters frequently visited the library, always leaving with armloads of books.
Her lifelong love of reading and books will come in handy as she settles into her new job as director of the Newnan Carnegie Library, and continuing to build strong relationships throughout the community will be a priority, Crutchfield said.
“My goal is to strengthen the partnership between the Carnegie and the community,” she said. “We want to do more outreach, and to continue making the Carnegie a place for people to come and feel safe, and enjoy our free programming.”
It’s a career divergence for Crutchfield, who holds a degree in sport management with a marketing minor. She is a former director of sports at the Summit YMCA. But knowledge of business and risk management translates into skills for many occupations, including her work as a professional photographer.
She first came to the Carnegie in February 2017, when she was hired as a part-time adult programs assistant. Crutchfield’s husband, Russell, often told her she should consider a library job because of her obsession with books, but she said it’s the sense of community that most appeals to her.
“From the moment I started working here, I realized we’re such an important part of the community,” Crutchfield said. “We help people every day. A modern library doesn’t often have that sense of community.”
The historic building itself is a landmark, bearing Newnan’s iconic “City of Homes” lighted sign. A $10,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie – sent after the philanthropist received a letter from a terminally ill Newnan youth who wanted his town to have a library – funded the building, and it served as the town’s main library for many decades after it initially opened in 1903.
When what is now the Powell Library was built on Hospital Road in 1987, the Carnegie ceased to be a library for a period of time. The building eventually was renovated to closely resemble the original library and reopened in 2009 in its original capacity to welcome the public back inside.
Crutchfield said the Newnan Carnegie serves as big a need now as its founder intended – giving back to the community. Only it’s in more and different ways than ever, she said.
“It isn’t just about books or reading,” she said. “It’s about helping people and public service. We help people who need help with applications, or who need to get on the internet to renew public assistance, and who want you to help them find an article online, or a book.”
The library also is a hub for everything from exercise and crafting classes to academic lectures, including a partnership with the University of West Georgia to host two of its Other Night School programs per semester. And the Newnan Carnegie Library Foundation, the library’s nonprofit support organization, brings in guest authors and sponsors summer reading programs.
Crutchfield, who has lived in Coweta County for more than 30 years, is a member of the Newnan ArtRez board and said she is looking forward to working closely with the Newnan Carnegie Library Foundation and with groups like the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society – which recently named Emily Kimbell its new president – and Main Street Newnan.
Historical stereotypes may portray library work as drudgery, but the new Carnegie director said it’s anything but boring.
“There’s so much going on,” Crutchfield said. “I like the fact that you can do something different every day.”
For information on classes and programs offered at the Newnan Carnegie, visit www.newnancarnegie.com .