Donna Phillips is new director of Wayne County Public Library
By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 30, 2011 11:26 PM
Growing up in Goldsboro, Donna Phillips enjoyed her family's weekly trips to the library on Chestnut Street.
On Monday, Mrs. Phillips, who said that now as an adult she appreciates those trips even more, will begin her new duties as director of the Wayne County Public Library.
"I think it is a wonderful choice," retiring director Jane Rustin said. "Donna is fully prepared to take over as director. She is enthusiastic. She will lead the library in many new and innovative directions and all the while link to the heritage of the library."
The county earlier this summer folded the library system into a county department. County Manager Lee Smith appointed Mrs. Phillips as director.
"I started out my career in early childhood education," Mrs. Phillip said. "I had always been interested in working with children, particularly in learning how children learn, grow and develop. That sort of led me to working at WAGES. I was the education coordinator for the Head Start program there.
"It was really though my work at WAGES that I began to have an interest in family literacy I guess. I had the opportunity for some family literacy, training."
She said that piqued her interest in another direction and what graduate program she might be interested in.
Mrs. Phillips said she realized how powerful information is.
"So I guess it was just a natural thing that my path in life led me to librarianship," she said. "Particularly I was a children's librarian so that work really interested me. In working with Jane, she taught me early on that I could impact children in a larger way if I thought about the track of administration.
"Initially I wasn't so convinced of that because I loved being a children's librarian. I will probably always think that it is a really special job. But I began to understand what she was talking about so that is sort of how I became interested in being the assistant director."
Mrs. Phillips said she is looking forward to being director and that she felt honored to be named to the position and to able to serve her community.
"One of the nice things that Jane did for me, we have a painting in the library of the former library (on Chestnut Street)," she said. "She had that painting hung in the office that I will be occupying because I have spoken of it and remembered fondly my childhood trips to the library."
As director, one of the first projects Mrs. Phillips will be involved with will be the new Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive.
"I had the opportunity to work alongside Jane with the renovations that were made some years ago to the Goldsboro library," she said. "This will be the first building project that will be mine to manage.
"It has been exciting to see how the community has rallied around that effort in Mount Olive."
Mrs. Phillips said she also is looking forward to working with the library staff that she said was among the "best in the state."
Employed by the library in 1997 as a children's librarian, Mrs. Phillips was promoted to the position of assistant director in 2004.
She was also an early childhood intervention specialist for the Wayne County Mental Health Department.
Mrs. Phillips received her Master of Library Science degree from North Carolina Central University; a Master of Science in Administration degree from Central Michigan University and a bachelor's degree from East Carolina University.
She is a member of the American and North Carolina Library Associations. She has been invited to speak at state conferences and currently serves as vice chairman of the Literacy Roundtable of the N.C. Library Association.
A grant she authored and implemented provided Latino Outreach Services in Wayne County. This program was recognized as a model to replicate by the N.C. State Library. She also secured Smart Start funding for the library's early literacy program, "Every Child Ready to Read."
Mrs. Phillips has been active in the community as she has volunteered with United Way, the Chamber of Commerce and the Wayne County Latino Council. Board involvement includes the Kiwanis Club of Goldsboro (president 2004); the Partnership for Children and Habitat for Humanity (president 2007).
A member of the First Baptist Church of Goldsboro, she is a lay leader and Sunday school teacher.
Mrs. Phillips resides in Goldsboro with her husband, Jerry, and son, Zachary.