Melanie Huggins is the executive director of the Richland Library in Columbia, S.C. She is a frequent speaker and facilitator for other libraries and organizations on the topics of customer experience, strategic planning, and active learning environments. Melanie came to Richland Library in 2009 from St. Paul (Minn.) Public Library, where she served as the director. Prior to that, she was the youth service coordinator for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, N.C., where she led the development of Imaginon: The Joe and Joan Martin Center.
At Richland Library, Melanie’s inclusive approach to strategic planning has resulted in the opening of a multimedia teen space, a co-working space, and a total rebranding of the library system based on customer feedback. Melanie is leading the implementation of a 10-year capital plan that includes expansion and renovation of all locations based on the changing roles of libraries. The library is asking voters to approve a 59 million dollar bond referendum for capital projects in November 2013.
Named the 2012 South Carolina Outstanding Librarian by the South Carolina Library Association, Melanie currently serves as the chair of the Urban Libraries Council and the immediate past-president of the South Carolina Association of Public Library Administrators. In addition to her work in the library community, she spends as much time as possible with her husband and three awesome children, including being the Brownie Troop leader for an excitable group of 21 second and third graders.
“Public libraries are uniquely positioned to respond to the learning needs of communities. Whether those needs are literacy, workforce development, access to technology, or other community challenges, libraries respond professionally and quickly in ways that other organizations cannot. PLA can make a difference by looking to inform, partner, and strategically align with others that share our passion to advance communities. I’d be proud to be a part of helping develop those partnerships that benefit PLA members and public libraries across the country.”