RMRT Member Spotlight

Nancy giving a speech at IFLA

Each month, we highlight one of our members to get to know our group a little better!

This month's member: Nancy Bolt

What made you decide to go into Library Sciences?

I wanted to be a teacher first and got an education degree.  But I loved reading and felt I would enjoy working in a school library and have the summers off.  But I was going to the University of Missouri because my husband was in law school there and the library school had only recently been accredited.   It did not have a school library curriculum, so I became a public librarian.

What sort of positions have you held with Libraries?

So many.   I get bored easily. My first job out of library school was as the Executive Director of the Missouri Library Association.  This began my lifelong commitment to library associations and their value to the library profession.  After two years, I moved to the Daniel Boone Public Library in Columbia, Missouri as a reference librarian.  When my husband left college, and we moved to Meadville, Pennsylvania, I took a job as a Branch Librarian at the Erie Public Library and failed miserably.  It was my first management job, and I had no idea how to be a good manager.  After only a few months, we mutually agreed that I should leave.   After sulking in my living room and watching the Nixon hearings on TV (big revelation – Nixon recorded all the conversations in the Oval Office), I finally got a job as a “second professional” in a small public library in Meadville, Pennsylvania.  The library director was my first mentor, and she was terrific.  I learned what it meant to be an excellent manager to her staff. She was not threatened by talented staff and allowed staff to try out new ideas.  She was shy and asked if I would be the representative for community programs, which I loved.  I modeled her behavior in my next job. My husband took a job in Salem, Virginia, where there was no library job.  I worked as a secretary for a while.  Then, a job opened at the Forsyth County Public Library in Winston-Salem, NC, to begin a new program, Adult Continuing Education (ACE), using federal (then) LSCA funds.  I took the job, and simultaneously, my husband and I split up.  I could hire my staff and develop the program from scratch.   This is the first program I designed from scratch. Once established, I was asked to move to head of the Main Library.  I took the position for about a year but did not enjoy it.  I was bored.  I discovered I wanted to work at a level where I could impact more libraries.  I never worked in a single library again. National Endowment for the Humanities advertised a position to create a brand new library grant program. I applied and was hired.  I was “on loan” from FCPL for two years and was supposed to go back.  I established the nationwide NEH Library Grant Program, which is still in effect. This was the second program I created.   I became very active in ALA in trying to get libraries to submit grants to NEH.   I particularly liked my involvement with state libraries.  Again, I felt state libraries could significantly impact more than a single library.  When my two years were up, I knew I did not want to return to North Carolina. A job opened for the Director of Library Development at the Maryland State Library under State Librarian Nettie B. Taylor. I was immensely lucky to serve under her. She was my second great mentor. She trusted me with many projects and always gave me credit when they worked.  When they failed, she took the blame.  She made hard decisions and worked well with the legislature.  I learned to lobby and work in a state bureaucracy.  By then, I had married my current husband and, while there, became pregnant.  When Jonathan was two years old, my husband, Bob, took a job in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I moved with him and established a library consulting company, JNR Associates, INC (which stands for Jonathan, Nancy, and Robert).  It still exists, and our various other businesses are DBAs under JNR.  Starting a consulting business with a young child was challenging but fun, and the consulting bug followed me for the next 40 years. When Jonathan was in kindergarten, I decided I wanted to work full time again and applied for several jobs, including the Executive Director of the Ohio Library Association and, a long shot, State Librarian in Colorado.  I was thrilled to become a State Librarian in 1987, and Bob followed me two years later.  I held the job for the next 18 years.  I was terrified at first and often found myself saying, “What would Nettie do?”   My real talent as State Librarian was to hire great staff, and together, we accomplished much.  Even as a state librarian, I could continue consulting, and one of my major projects was creating the America Bulgarian Library Project (ABLE).  Two of us did that with a federal grant from the US State Department.  This was the third program I created. In 2005, I decided it was time to retire as State Librarian.  I felt my job had become struggling in an oppressive bureaucracy that did not appreciate libraries, advocating with a slow-moving legislature, or trying to solve unsolvable problems my excellent staff could not solve.  My staff were having all the fun out in the field.  So, I left the State Library and became a full-time consultant for the next 20 years.  I had many, many projects, but the one I’m most proud of was to create the Library Support Staff Certification Program (LSSC) with an LSTA federal grant.  This was the fourth new program I started.  It was always varied and exciting and never dull. In the late 20teens, I began slowing down.  I wasn’t as interested in attending webinars to stay current, and by the time of COVID, I was ready to retire.  So, I did. My retirement from paid work has focused mainly on IFLA and Jefferson Humanists.  In summary, maybe I have ADD.  I got bored quickly and kept moving to jobs with much change.

What was your favorite part of working professionally? 

Jobs with a lot of change, jobs that challenged me to create something new out of whole cloth, jobs that let me work with other people. I hated working alone and always chose “associates” to work with me on every project.

How many years did you work before you retired? 

What is retirement? As a consultant, my payment was intermittent. My last paid job was editing a 100-page document when I was 77. I’m as busy now as I ever was; I just don’t get paid for it. 

What made you decide to join RMRT?

Mainly when they ended ASCLA. I had been very active in ASCLA, and I was looking for another ALA unit to get involved in. As a consultant, I don’t have a type of library specialty, and at my age, RMRT seemed like a good choice.

What are some activities and offices you’ve held with RMRT?

  • Liaison to the Committee on Library Ethics (COPE)
  • Member of the Board
  • VP, President, Past President

What’s your favorite part of being in RMRT?

I'm staying involved even though I’m not that involved in ALA anymore. The new friends I have made. I am still able to contribute to ALA.

What sort of activities are you involved with outside of RMRT?

  • IFLA Religion and Libraries
  • IFLA editing documents for Library Services for People with Special Needs
  • ALA Accessibility Assembly
  • Colorado Association of Libraries, International Library and Cultural Exchange Interest Group
  • Sister Cities
  • Jefferson Humanists, President 
  • First Universalist Church, Safe Parking Program

What’s your favorite part of being retired?

Sleeping late.  Organizing my own time.  Being able to say no.

What sort of advice do you have for a new member of ALA?

Volunteer for committees.  Participate in a broader library world.  Attend ALA if you can.  Take advantage of webinars.  Broaden your horizons.

What sort of advice do you have for a new Retiree?

Join RMRT.  Attend ALA if you can.  Stay active.  Volunteer as soon as you can to do something meaningful to you.


In addition, I’ve been very active in ALA.

I’ve been a consecutive member since 1970 – that’s 54 years. I do not remember the dates of all the positions below.  They started in the 1970s.

I’ve been chair of:

  • Junior Member Round Tables, now New Member Round Table

  • International Relations Round Table

  • Retired Member Round Table

  • Continue Library Education Networking & Education (a long time ago)

  • Consulting Group in ASCLA

I’ve been President of

  • Public Library Association

  • Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies

  • Chair of the International Relations Committee

  • On the ALA Executive Board

Plus committee membership in a bunch more.