NORWALK, Conn. — Sherelle Harris has been named Director of the Norwalk Public Library System.
“Sherelle knows the Library system and the staff and has a special connection to our residents. She is a leader, role model, and community advocate, and I know she is going to do wonderfully in this position,” Mayor Harry Rilling said in a press release.
Harris, a Board of Education member, served as the Assistant Director from 2010 to October, when she was named interim director after Norwalk Public Library Director Christine Bradley took early retirement.
With this promotion, Harris has become the first Black person to serve as Director of the Norwalk Library System, the press release noted. The Black Caucus of the American Library Association offered its congratulations.
“What a triumphant day,” Shauntee Burns-Simpson, President, is quoted as saying. Harris, a “seasoned professional,” has “broken the barrier” and, “We know she will address Norwalk’s community needs and wants.”
The release said:
“Harris has worked with the Norwalk Library system since 1997, having served as Manager of Children’s Services and then Assistant Director. Under her leadership, a STEM after-school program and Girls Who Code program were introduced at the Library. She was instrumental in overseeing renovations to the Library Community Room and Teen Room in recent years. Harris received the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Dorothy Height ‘Living with a Purpose’ Award in 2017 and the Calvary Baptist Church Community Service Award in 2019. She is a member of the American Library Association, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and Connecticut Library Association.
“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris has been a key stakeholder and partner, thinking outside the box to deliver library services through creative means, such as new Sidewalk Service and providing hand-selected book recommendations to residents. Over the last year, demand for library services increased significantly, with more than 12,000 new library cards requested in Norwalk.”
An October press release said Harris started out as a part-time young adult librarian and was promoted one year later to full time manager of children’s services at the South Norwalk Branch Library. She was later presented with a national award for library advocacy and was also involved with the renovation and expansion of the South Norwalk Branch Library from 2004 to 2006.
Harris was officially hired into the Director role April 26, the Thursday press release said.
“This was a competitive process and Sherelle stood out from a crowded field. She has the experience, expertise, collaborative attitude and deep understanding of Norwalk that will help her be successful. Under her leadership, I know the Norwalk Public Library is in good hands and will keep moving in the right direction,” Rilling is quoted as saying.
“I understand the community and I will never lose sight that the Norwalk Public Library is here to serve all,” Harris is quoted as saying. “I hope to bring new programs and innovative classes that will appeal to all ages and interests. My dedication and enthusiasm for the Norwalk Public Library and the community we serve is boundless. I am humbled by this promotion and the support that has been given to me. I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue serving Norwalk on another level.”
“Sherelle Harris is an excellent selection as Director of the Norwalk Public Library system. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position, and she will be an asset to the City of Norwalk. I look forward to working with her,” said Connecticut Black Caucus of the American Library Association President Robert Kinney.
The Norwalk Public Library Board of Directors is appointed by Rilling, the First Taxing District, and the Second Taxing District, the press release points out. The Board creates rules and regulations for the library, develops a budget, and guides the Library’s strategic plan.
Members of the Board interviewed candidates before recommending several finalists to Rilling, it says.
“The Norwalk Library is extremely fortunate to have Sherelle Harris as our new Director because she combines in a unique manner a close connection to Norwalk’s diverse community of library customers with a decade-long managerial experience in operating the SoNo Branch Library,” Norwalk Public Library Board of Trustees Chairman Alex Knopp is quoted as saying. “The Library Board strongly supports promoting a new Director from within the ranks of the current library staff. We look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with Sherelle and commend Mayor Rilling for his selection.”