News and Tribune

Lifestyles

October 23, 2011

A good Day: Stephen Day finishing out duties at library; plans to retire Oct. 31

NEW ALBANY — Libraries are not just for books anymore. The technology explosion in the last two decades has definitely changed the face of public and college libraries.

And the changes keep coming.

“We’re changing and trying new things all the time,” said Stephen Day, director of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library. “Technology has changed a number of things over the years.”

One thing it didn’t change was Day, who has been director of the library since Oct. 19, 1987. But at 66 and with the stresses that come with running an operation the size of the NA-FC library, Day has decided to retire. His last day will be Oct. 31.

“With all the constant struggles for state money, and trying to keep your budget in order, it takes a toll on you emotionally and physically,” he said.

The library has not only seen a technology explosion during Day’s tenure, but other upgrades as well. Besides the new carpet, furniture and the two new roofs installed during his 24 years at the helm, the library has also added public computers on every floor; increased its audio book selections; renovated the front desk and the reference area; added a job center; and constructed an Annex Building in the parking lot at Scribner and Spring streets for the Friends of the Library book sale.

And those are just a few of the highlights.

“Stephen Day was responsible for many, many programs and innovations at the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library during his long tenure there. But as a longtime member of the Friends of the Library, I think that one of his achievements that wasn’t mentioned at his retirement party was the building of the Annex Building and the assigning of some of the space in it for a permanent book sale for the Friends,” said Kathy Eickmann. “The book sale took in over $175,000 during its first 10 years of existence and is approaching the $200,000 mark. Without the permanent space for the book sale, I doubt that such figures could have been achieved, and of course, almost all of that money has gone to support the library for programs and equipment.”

Day said he has always strived to make the library as good as it can be. He said many people have told him over the years how impressed and how lucky Floyd County residents are to have a top-notch library.

“I think he has done a marvelous job,” said longtime library board member Roger Whaley. “He has been a excellent steward of the library and its resources. We were very fortunate to have him for 24 years.”

Despite the growth in technology, Day believes libraries will always have books, and not just audio versions.

“People say books will one day go away. But they can’t digitalize books quick enough,” he said. “No matter what we have in here, we will always be the provider of information. Any way we can get it to you, we will get it to you. Our goal is to get info from here to you. This is a destination place. If they need info, we are here.”

The library operates on a budget of $2.7 million a year and has 48 employees. The Carnegie Center for Art & History is also included in the library’s budget.

“I think this community should be proud of what they have here. Very few communities have something like the Carnegie Center,” Day said.

He said he has no definite plans for life after the library. He said he plans on visiting his daughters, who live in Ohio and Atlanta, and said he has plenty of work to do at his house. While he is full of mixed emotions as his days as director come to an end, he said he is confident he is leaving the library in good shape.

“It is definitely better than it was when I came here,” he said. “I think I have cared for it ... it’s the people’s library, not mine. I want them to be proud of it.

“I will miss it but there are always constant worries. It gets to be a bit much after a while.

Rose Frost will assume Day’s duties Nov. 1.

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