By Sherrie Norris
Avery County native David Singleton was recently named the 2017-18 Library Director of the Year by the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association.
This award is given annually to a library director who has contributed to the growth and development of their library by providing leadership, inspiration and creativity to staff, patrons and trustees, and has succeeded in providing excellent service to their library and/or the library community.
Thus, Singleton’s award comes as no surprise to those who have known him and worked with him during his lengthy career, as they attest that he has met the criteria — and more.
Having most recently served over the past decade as Director of Libraries for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Singleton has been described as one who has exemplified the definition of leadership, not only for the CML community, but for libraries and librarians across the country.
Melanie Morgan, Director of Libraries for the Neuse Regional Library System in Kinston, nominated Singleton for the coveted award, and was honored to introduce him as the winner during the awards ceremony in Winston Salem on Dec. 6.
Under Singleton’s leadership, Morgan said, “The CML has been transformed and acts as a critical and valued hub in Mecklenburg County, while also serving as an innovative example and guiding light for libraries across America.”
Morgan described the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system as one of America’s leading urban public libraries, serving more than 1 million citizens through its 20 locations in Mecklenburg County, adding that the library system delivers “exceptional services and programs, with a mission to improve lives and build a stronger community.”
Morgan described Singleton as always being the first to share and lend a helping hand to those around him, and one who strives to empower his employees and fellow librarians to be the best they can be.
“David Singleton has contributed to the growth and development of the CML on multiple levels that transcends beyond the library’s walls and creates a stronger community through leadership, innovation, programming, customer service, access and facilities,” she said.
Each of these factors, together and separately, which Morgan detailed in her nomination, has won the CML numerous awards and praise for its community-centered focus and includes Singleton’s skills in leadership, innovation, programming, as well as customer service, access and facilities, to name a few. (The list of his accomplishments is too lengthy to name in this space.)
Morgan concluded, “The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library would not be the innovative and successful entity it is today without the leadership of David Singleton. Although his tenure at the CML has ended, his impact on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community will continue to be felt for years to come, thanks to his dedication to providing access and equality of services and programs to all community members. David Singleton is a true innovator, and we as directors are blessed to have him as a friend and colleague.”
Singleton, who is now serving as a library consultant in and around North Carolina, recognizes those who have stood by him and supported him throughout his career as a public librarian.
“This award is particularly meaningful to me because it comes from such amazing peer directors across North Carolina,” Singleton said. “Without question, one of the great pleasures of my life has been to come back to my native North Carolina to serve at one of the country’s leading libraries and give back to the state that I love so much.”
According to Singleton, public libraries are transforming into centers of community, places of economic opportunity, hubs of innovation and technology, and places where young children and their parents get the best start at reading and learning.
“I stand on the shoulders of the exceptionally talented and dedicated staff of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, who improve lives and build a stronger community every single day, always with a sense of joy,” he said.
Having served in various capacities in Georgia, including that of Deputy State Librarian for the Georgia Public Library Service in Atlanta for six years — before returning to North Carolina to be closer to his family — Singleton expressed gratitude to those who have been a source of continuous support and encouragement over the past 30 years.
It was “incredibly gratifying,” he said, that members of his family — his mother, Nellie Singleton, his sister, Laura Singleton Wright, and his niece Crystal Townsend Peavey, were in attendance at the awards ceremony, along with Mike Holland, “one of the best friends that I could ever ask for.”
“They all make me so proud to be a librarian every day,” he said.
A 1978 graduate of Avery County High School, Singleton holds degrees and certificates from UNC-Chapel Hill, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University School of Law and Gwinnett Technical Institute, as well as countless commendations for presentations and inclusions in numerous publications.
Singleton resides in Belmont, but enjoys frequent visits with his family in Avery County.