Lynn Hawkins will retire as Mentor Public Library’s executive director on Jan. 31.
To give a sense of how much Mentor Public Library has grown under her leadership, when she was hired in 2004, the library didn’t even have wireless Internet.
Since then, Mentor Public Library has embraced the digital. For example, patrons can use the library’s online services to stream video or music, borrow digital issues of magazines, and check out eBooks from their computers, tablets, or smartphones.
Hawkins has always cared about the role of technology in libraries. In 2003, she co-authored the book High Tech, High Touch: Improving Customer Service with Technology.
Under Hawkins’ guidance, Mentor Public Library:
- Won News-Herald’s Best of the Best Lake County Library for five consecutive years (from 2010 to 2014) until the newspaper retired the category
- Started offering story times at local day cares and preschools
- Added Little Free Libraries and a Pop-Up Library that distribute free books in parks, schools, businesses, and at events around the community
- Began offering free computer classes and circulating eReaders for patrons to borrow
- Acquired the Read House property in 2009. Its backyard is used for everything from concerts to summer-reading parties.
- Partnered with local organizations like James A. Garfield National Historic Site to offer free programs to patrons
- Created a seed library in 2015 that provides free fruit, vegetable, flower, and herb seeds to patrons
- Started offering pool-side story times and delivering free books to Headlands Beach and Mentor Beach Park during the summer
- Added drive-thru service to its Main Branch
- Became first library in the state to offer discounts and deals at local businesses via My Library Rewards
- Was named Civic Organization of the year in 2010 by Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce
Hawkins worked to keep the library solvent when the state cut nearly 30 percent of its library funding between 2008 and 2009. She also helped steward the library during the recession of 2010 when Mentor Public Library experienced record circulation and program attendance.
Meanwhile, in 2010, Hawkins herself became just the 28th library administrator to receive an accreditation from the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association.
MPL Board President Amy Frank-Hensley said this about Hawkins:
It’s simply amazing what Lynn has been able to accomplish. Not so long ago, many people were predicting libraries would become obsolete along with bookstores. We’ve definitely lost a lot of bookstores in Lake County, but Lynn has made the Mentor Public Library a vital and even more connected part of our community. Her leadership has transformed our library during some very tough times. Lynn and her team were very good at providing new and innovative services while operating within a conservative budget; striving to do more for our tax payers with less. We’re very proud of what she has accomplished and wish her a long and active retirement with lots of good reads in her future.
Hawkins is married to Mentor-on-the-Lake Councilman and retired attorney John Hawkins. In her retirement, she plans to practice yoga and her unsupported headstands.