From Shoestring Budget to Library Luminary, Dexter's Paul McCann Awarded Lifetime Achievement


(Thanks to Bud Haynes for the tip and the photos.)

Paul McCann, Director of the Dexter District Library, received the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Michigan Library Association (MLA) at its annual conference in Kalamazoo on Oct. 18, 2023. McCann received the honor for his 33-year career, 29 of which has been in Dexter as Director.

“This is a humbling honor, and I was truly surprised to receive the award, but a career like the one I have had does not happen in a vacuum,” McCann says. “Many people have contributed to the success of the Dexter District Library.”

He explains, “Having a Library Board that has been supportive of new ideas and willing to take chances on expanding services made a world of difference. Our Friends Group is composed of many wonderful volunteers who help raise supplemental funds for the Library. Their dedication is a wonderful testament to the importance of the institution in the community. Our partnership with The Library Network has been invaluable in expanding access to a wealth of materials through our shared catalog. There is a ton of behind-the-scenes work that goes into managing a database of over 6 million items. Most important would be the dedicated staff members, past and present, who have lived through the many changes and provided great customer service over the years.”

The MLA annually bestows the Lifetime Achievement Award to a librarian to recognize their significant and enduring contributions to the profession. The prestigious award is not simply honoring longevity but a proclamation of the recipient's sustained excellence in their work. Recipients’ influence extends beyond their immediate operational scope, marked by notable leadership within the library community – mentoring and empowering library staff, providing innovative service to their community, and enhancing the image and visibility of the library.

Reflecting, McCann said, “The Library's first millage support was passed just prior to my hiring in 1994. With the first stable source of funding, we were able to institute a wide variety of new services, expanded collections, and extended hours that were not previously possible.”

Paul also recounted how, before the passage of the first millage, the Library was operated on a shoestring budget of less than $50,000 per year. While libraries are generally well-established community institutions, he feels fortunate to have arrived in a community that highly values education and reading, with funding that modernized library services for the Dexter community.

“Having guided the Library from the small building on Baker Road (now Verapose Yoga) through the years on Fourth Street and to the building we have today has been the most rewarding aspect of my service to the Library and the Dexter community,” says Paul.

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