Thank you, Steve, for your service to Palatka
When Steve Crowley retired after 28 years as Director of Libraries at Putnam County Library System, he didn’t walkway from his service to the community; he jumped right back in.
“So, I retired as director. At the same time, there came an opening to serve on the Putnam County Library Board as a representative of the City of Palatka.” said Crowley. “At that point, Betsy Driggers was City Clerk. And she called me and asked whether I would like to be on the library board. She was a formidable force, and I could not refuse. So, I was nominated and appointed to the board.”
The Putnam County Library Board is a governing committee of nine residents, five nominated by the Putnam County Commission and four by the Palatka City Commission, who oversee the County’s library system.
“When I started here, the City of Palatka had the Larimer Library, there was a library in Melrose and then one in Crescent City. It just didn’t make sense, so they were all folded in together under the county. Putnam County really was not big enough to support different library systems,” said Crowley, “and the board was formed to give Palatka a say in the operation.”
“We created a library board that had five people appointed directly by the board of County Commissioners and then to represent the historical relationship between the City of Palatka and the library system,” he continued, “we included four members recommended by the City of Palatka and appointed by the board of County Commissioners.
Crowley has left the board after serving the maximum two three-year terms ending more than three decades of service to the library system.
Crowley was hired to be the director of the Palatka Library in the 1980s and worked in what is now the Larimer Arts Center on Reid Street in the city.
The Library was built in 1930 as a gift to the city from James Ross Mellon, who spent winters in the city for 50 years and was a member of the wealthy Mellon banking family from Pittsburgh, to give the citizens of Palatka access to knowledge to help them succeed. The library and now the arts center is named after James Ross Mellon’s wife Rachel Larimer Mellon.
And in the decades since, the Library system has served Palatka and Putnam County well.
“Libraries are important because they still present a safe place to be. They provide a place to read books and learn, to access the Internet, to access computers, to conduct personal business. They’re also a place for young people to get together and access materials that are relevant to their lives,” Crowley said.
Crowley has seen a lot of changes in the library. Probably the most significant change is the transition to an online life, he said.
“We used to joke and say that we were trying to get Putnam County on to, if not electronic information superhighway highway at least we’re getting them on the electronic information super dirt road.” said Crowley.
Crowley still sees the county’s libraries still serving a similar purpose that they did when Mellon funded the Larimer Library in the City almost 100 years ago, as a cornerstone of the community. When asked if he still sees a place in the Palatka/Putnam County community in the next thirty years, he said he really does.
“I think that libraries will largely transition into being a community center, a place where people of all stripes can come to and exist safely, read and discover the world out there.”
Thank you, Steve, for helping the residents of Palatka and Putnam County discover the world.
If you are interested in volunteering to serve on the Library Board or other Palatka boards, please email contact City Clerk Sunni Krantz at (386) 329-0100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Current Vacancies are:
- Planning Board
- Police Officers’ Pension Board
- Putnam County Library Board – City appointment
- Putnam County Better Place Plan Oversite Committee – City appointment
- Zoning Board of Appeals