‘It’s been about connections in the community’
By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Ellen Dolan, the director of the Shrewsbury Public Library, announced at the June 25 meeting of the Library Board of Trustees that she plans to retire in April of 2020. It has been a stellar career serving her communities.
“Professionally, I felt that the library is in a very good state. We have a very strong Trustee Board, a Foundation Board that is developing and is looking toward sustaining the excellence that our library is about,” Dolan explained. “We have an amazing staff and managers who are capable and committed to public service. I felt that a lot of the big issues were covered and it’s time for someone new to step in and carry us forward.”
Born and raised in Marlborough, Dolan had two career tracks in mind: Forestry and recreation or a possible career in education.
“I was going to be a forest ranger but I kept working in public libraries in college and in the summer in my hometown and really became interested in the ways that libraries impact their communities,” Dolan shared.
When she graduated from college she was offered a teaching position and a young adult librarian position. She chose the latter because she liked the idea of exposure to all ages.
Dolan attended Lyndon State College in Vermont, then Anna Marie College before receiving her Master’s in Library Science from Simmons College.
Her first professional post was with the Marlborough Public Library where she worked for 18 years. Then, she spent 13 years at the Beaman Memorial Library in West Boylston, before assuming the role of Shrewsbury’s library director in 2005.
“The biggest aspect of my career has been I’ve been able to really enjoy the communities that I’ve worked in and really connect with people. For me that have been the most rewarding part of my work…It’s a real privilege to be able to be there to help them,” Dolan said.
In 2010 she was awarded the Carnegie-New York Times I Love My Librarian Award. She noted that she treasures this award because although she had never been one to look for that kind of adulation, the award recognized her work as a librarian and the people she has served.
Her most notable achievement, while in Shrewsbury, was being part of the team that coordinated the successful library expansion that was completed in 2016.
“We are very proud of the building and the fundraising and the planning that went into this but also the way the building functions to serve the community,” Dolan added.
When asked how the role of the librarian or a library has changed since she began, Dolan said that it’s basically the same, just the tools are different. There are a lot more tools that they can offer today with technology and shared resources with other libraries in the state.
“What a remarkable place the Shrewsbury Public Library is. It’s been such an honor to work here and really see a community embrace its library,” Dolan concluded. “There is a huge variety of people that use the library and that’s something I’ll always treasure.”
She looks forward to devoting more time to do other things; notably spending time with family and at her camp in Maine and travel.
The Library Board of Trustees will oversee the search for Dolan’s successor.