For the past month, visitors at Selbyville Public Library have seen a new face in town. With 34 years of experience and a lot of enthusiasm, Patricia “Trish” Woods is the library’s new director.
“We were really looking for someone who could integrate the library into the community,” said Sue Nilsson, president of Selbyville Public Library Board of Commissioners. “Selbyville is such a unique town, with a diverse population. [We sought] someone who would embrace the building and community.”
Born in Florida, Woods moved to Delaware in 1988 and has worked at public, college and school libraries. She had just retired from Sussex Technical High School after spending 21 years building the library from an office with no books to a large, six-room facility.
“It was a good experience. … I had to learn a lot,” said Woods. “Everyplace I’ve worked, I’ve learned something important, and I think you can learn wherever you go if you want to.”
“Their loss is our gain,” said Nilsson. “She has just fit in beautifully. We’re just so pleased that the timing worked out so well, and we think she’s great asset.”
“This is a really nice library, and the staff is excellent, friendly, very helpful. That’s so important to me, because I believe in customer-driven libraries,” Woods said. “Focus on the library users, not on what’s more convenient for us, because it’s a service business.”
Woods is already brainstorming ideas, which she said she looks forward to sharing in the future. She aims to work closely with the library’s Friends group to keep people involved in supporting and promoting the library. With her experience in technology and planning, she said she hopes to “reflect what the community hopes to have in a library and help keep it in the right direction.”
“Libraries promote democracy because you don’t have to be rich to use a library,” Woods said. “If you need to find a job … if you need to find out about how to apply for Social Security benefits, you can come in and use a library computer and find that out.
“It’s very important that all people in our society have free access to information, and that’s what you get in libraries, and that’s one of the things I’ve always loved about the whole institution of libraries.”
She said she already sees the library as a community and cultural center, citing events including art displays and history lectures.
“It’s more than just a place to check out books,” she emphasized.
On a personal note, Woods said she loves the historic library building, the home of a former senator and governor, and which once hosted her hero, Eleanor Roosevelt. Plus, Woods’ office looks out on the children’s area, surrounded by a huge literary mural.
When not at work, Woods said she enjoys gardening, spending time with friends and, of course, reading a little of everything — especially biographies. She is also proud of her daughter, who is currently at college.
“People think, to be a librarian, you just like books. But you have to be a people person,” Woods said.
The public is welcome to visit Woods at the library anytime, and the Selbyville Public Library will host a Meet the Director open house on Thursday, Aug. 23, from 5 to 7 p.m.
“I think Selbyville is a wonderful little town, and it’s a really neat area,” said Woods. “People are very nice … I’m so happy I’m here.”