Director retires from public library

Submitted to the Dorchester Banner
Frances Cranwell, director of the Dorchester County Public Library, will retire on July 1 after a career spanning 18 years with the library.

As of July 1, 2019, Frances Cresswell will be retiring from her position as Director of Dorchester County Public Library. Her retirement is well-deserved after a long and illustrious career spanning 18 years at Dorchester County Public Library. After leaving her post at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Ms. Cresswell joined the managerial team at Dorchester County Public Library in 2001 as Head of Reference. She served the library community in this role until 2010, when she took over the position of Assistant Director from Susan Steele.

Ms. Cresswell continued serving as Assistant Director until the retirement of then-Director Jean Del-Sordo in 2012. At that time, Ms. Cresswell says it “felt right” for her to “step up” and become the new Director, a role she would fulfill capably and with much kindness, leadership, and skill for the next seven years.

Ms. Cresswell emphatically states that the past seven years she has spent as Director of Dorchester County Public Library has been “truly a fulfilling career.” Her tenure as Director has been defined by two goals, “to improve personnel issues” and improving the “physical plant” or library branch buildings.

It was during her time as Director that Ms. Cresswell successfully negotiated pay raises for all library employees, and increased staffing at the Hurlock Branch. As for the “physical plant,” Ms. Cresswell oversaw the installation of a new heating and cooling system at the Cambridge Branch.

Additionally, major upkeep projects and repairs to both the Cambridge and Hurlock branches were executed successfully under her guidance. Perhaps the work she is most proud of, and will forever be an integral part of Ms. Cresswell’s legacy as Director, has been the restoration of the Wallace Office Building, located on the front lawn of the Cambridge Branch.

Looking back and contemplating her time as Director, Ms. Cresswell emphasizes the importance of focusing on what she deems the “high priorities.” She says the advice she wants to share with librarians at Dorchester County Public Library is to make customer service the “highest priority.”

Indeed, she says that “[e]verything else fits in around that. We are here for our public.” Not only this, but librarians should not “be afraid to experiment with new ideas, but also don’t get so emotionally invested that you won’t admit that one idea failed. Go ahead and try another. You can always learn something new.”

Everyone who has been employed at Dorchester County Public Library during Ms. Cresswell’s tenure as Director will miss Ms. Cresswell dearly, and will always remember how fierce an advocate she has been for not just her employees, but for the library and the community it serves.

Editor’s note: Books in the Belfry is a regular feature provided for local book lovers by the staff of the Dorchester County Public Library.

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