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Melanie Huggins

Executive Director, Richland Library in Columbia, SC

Melanie Huggins is the executive director of the Richland Library in Columbia, SC. A noted expert in the areas of strategic planning, collaborations, leadership development and library staffing, she is a frequent speaker and facilitator for other libraries and organizations. Huggins came to Richland Library in 2009 from St. Paul Public Library, where she served as the director.

In her time at Richland Library, she has introduced a new focus for strategic planning that involves all staff, coordinated the first Amnesty Week to remove barriers to library service for everyone in the community, rebranded the library system based on customer feedback, and received well over $1 million in grants.

One grant garnered $438,000 from the Knight Foundation, created a Job Center at the Richland Library in downtown Columbia, enhanced job related services and programs at all 11 library locations, and increased computer access systemwide by 104 percent.

Huggins continues to lead the implementation of a 10-year capital plan that includes expansion and renovation of all locations based on the changing roles of libraries—including the renovated Richland Library Eastover that opened in April.

Named the 2012 South Carolina Outstanding Librarian by the South Carolina Library Association, Huggins currently serves as the chair of the Urban Libraries Council and president of the South Carolina Association of Public Library Administrators. She has also served on the IMLS National Task Force to Define 21st Century Skills for Museums and Public Libraries and is an active member of the American Library Association and the Public Library Association.

In addition to her work in the library community, she serves on the City Center Partnership’s Board of Directors and chairs the group’s Marketing and Special Events Committee. Huggins was recognized with the Executive Excellence Award from the South Carolina Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America in April for her support of the marketing and communications function that resulted in successful rebranding effort.

It’s the Experience that Matters

What does an organization known for “shushing” people, penalizing slow readers (you know you owe fines) and maintaining order right down to the decimal point know about service design? A whole lot more than you might imagine.

Richland Library Executive Director, Melanie Huggins shares how her library transformed from the inside out with a renewed and intentional focus on the customer experience. The entire staff participated in creating a strategic, customer-centric vision that has permeated every function and service of the organization. Be inspired by examples of how this and other libraries are making its customer promises real through their people, places, processes and promotions.