A New Chapter for Brunswick County Library
Meet Patricia Dew, the multitalented new director of Brunswick County Library System.
It’s no surprise that Patricia Dew, recently named director for Brunswick County Library System, is right at home in any library.
“My mom has told me she was prepared to read the first book I brought home from my elementary school library to me. Instead, I sat down and read it to her,” Dew says.
It was the beginning of a lifelong love of books. And libraries.
Dew got her first public library card from the North Durham Branch of Durham County Library in Durham, North Carolina, at age six. Mrs. Scott, the children’s librarian, encouraged her to read anything and everything and introduced her to her first book without pictures.
“It was a biography of Annie Oakley,” Dew recalls. “I loved that book and the ‘don’t tell me what a girl can’t do’ story.”
Dew volunteered at that library throughout her teen years, which eventually led to a summer job during college.
Dew’s bachelor of music degree with a concentration in music education from the University of North Carolina Greensboro and a master of library science with a concentration in public libraries from North Carolina Central University demanded many days in college libraries.
“I spent a lot of time in the music library using print and audio resources,” Dew says. “And I spent a semester with an honors professor working on bibliographic research.”
In 20-plus years of public library service, including her most recent position as Supervising Librarian for New Hanover County Public Library Pine Valley Branch, Dew has performed almost every possible library role, including shelver, assistant, local history assistant, interlibrary loan assistant, reference librarian and branch manager.
The positions have given Dew a broad perspective of public librarianship. She considers it a privilege to have experienced all of these roles, and library director was her dream job and career goal.
“This position was the right opportunity for me at the right time,” Dew says.
Her role oversees the operations of the five libraries in Brunswick County: Margaret & James Harper, Jr. Library, Southport; Rourk Branch Library, Shallotte; Leland Library, Leland; G.V. Barbee, Sr. Library, Oak Island; and Southwest Brunswick Branch Library, Carolina Shores. Dew is responsible for budgeting, developing employment and service policies, strategic planning, public and governmental relations and reporting, ensuring compliance with laws, fundraising and staffing.
Driven by the 3.84 percent population growth in Brunswick County in the past year, Dew says the libraries are on the edge of a great opportunity.
“Our sleepy, rural beach towns are transforming into vibrant communities with more social, educational, artistic and recreational possibilities,” she says. “I want to bring Brunswick County libraries fully into the 21st century.”
In addition to her library-focused proficiencies, Dew attributes her ability “to take charge and lead no matter what” to her U.S. Army career. She attended Army Non-Commissioned Officer Education System schools, where she studied basic through advanced leadership. She intends to take the masters level class in the near future.
As an accomplished clarinet, bass clarinet and saxophone player, Dew spent 17 years in the 208th Army Band serving as musical performance team leader and small ceremonial band leader.
“I started taking music lessons in fourth grade,” Dew says. “I can play any woodwind instrument. But no strings.”
Recorder, pennywhistle and Irish flute are also in her repertoire of instruments. In the perfect fusion of her two favorite things, books and music, Dew was awarded an Army Achievement Medal for her work organizing hundreds of concert band, jazz band, brass quintet and ceremonial pieces of sheet music in the music library.
Dew is now a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army Reserve, serving as the North Carolina Non-commissioned Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer, the go-between the Department of Defense officers and civilian decision-makers to coordinate, plan and respond to emergency situations. In January 2023, she will have served 20 years.
Dew hit the ground running in her first 60 days as library director. She implemented OverDrive, giving readers access to hundreds of e-books online, and started a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Nextdoor. She is actively updating the county library website.
Dew’s longer-term goals include adding staff and resources, expansion of hours and locations, enhanced e-book collections, access to online services and new programming, all in a friendly and welcoming environment.
The Brunswick County Library Board of Trustees is also under the new leadership of Brunswick County resident Jeff Mount as of January. The board is excited to welcome Dew as the new director, Mount says.
“The trustees will take a much more proactive role as an advisory council to Ms. Dew,” Mount says. “Together they will strive to create a vibrant, lively and enriching patron experience. A listening campaign throughout the county will be launched to uncover how to increase library services, and a county literacy summit will be formed joining together teachers and nonprofits engaged in literacy initiatives. The trustees will research the feasibility of a bookmobile and will continue to leverage existing partnerships with nonprofit groups including Friends of the Library, Kiwanis, Smart Start and Brunswick County Literacy Council.”
Dew says she and Mount have gotten off to a good start with their working relationship and that the Board of Trustees is already working on updates to library policies.
“Libraries are for everyone,” Dew concludes. “I’m excited to have so many opportunities to grow the library system and create friendly, welcoming, useful community centers and places of ‘yes’ that meet the needs of everyone in the community.”
And this may be the best news of all: It’s free! For everyone!
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109 W. Moore Street, Southport
5068 Main Street, Shallotte
487 Village Road, Leland
8200 E. Oak Island Drive, Oak Island
Southwest Brunswick Branch Library
9400 Ocean Highway W., Carolina Shores
Photography by John Muuss
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