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Meet Kershaw County’s new library director

Posted: November 19, 2015 5:17 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Tenell Felder/C-I

New Kershaw County Library Director Amber Conger stands next to one of Maria J. Kirby-Smith’s two statues in the main branch on Broad Street. Conger is a 2014 Emerging Leader of the American Library Association and most recently worked as the business and job librarian at the Richland County Library’s main branch.

Kershaw County Library Director Amber Conger is bringing experience and passion to her new role leading the county’s library system. Conger, vice president of the S.C. Library Association, comes to Kershaw County from Richland County’s main library where she served as the business and job center librarian. 

“I (also) taught classes, business etiquette, computer skills. I also did all kinds of other things like dance classes, art classes and programming. They really let you explore your interests,” Conger said. 

Conger said she expects to also use her background in social work in her new position.

“I used to do social service work back in the day. I’ve been in management in a bookstore -- everything I’ve done I’ve applied here,” she said. “It’s interesting how those problem solving skills (from social work) transfer into administration and management.”

Conger will focus on three areas of development for Kershaw County Libraries: early literacy, workforce development and programming.  

“I want to focus more on programming for adults and teens, some different things that are hands-on. People love when you can come and learn how to make sushi or create art. If you can come to the library and do that, wouldn’t that be fun? You can bring your friends, try something new. Sometimes it’s just one little thing that really sparks a whole revolution in somebody’s life. We want to be a place where someone can find that,” Conger said.

She also stressed the importance of helping job seekers through county libraries. 

“We support job seekers here. Working at the job center in Richland, I definitely learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Every good library is tailored to its community, every library is in tune with what the needs are,” Conger said. 

She said while it is still too early to give specific goals of what she hopes to accomplish in Kershaw County, she has general ideas.

“I am always interested in streamlining, making things more efficient and more accessible to members of our community. I like to take down barriers anywhere I can,” Conger said. “I know our library was under wonderful leadership … (but) having a fresh set of eyes come in and take a look at things is what I will be working on. Is there anything we are doing that we could be doing better?”  

For now, Conger said she will focus on building relationships in the community and improving services.

“I will be doing a little bit of everything. We have the three locations and the bookmobile, so I will just be making sure things are flowing as they should be at the different locations. Getting involved in the community is going to be huge because part of the library director’s role is to make contacts and build connections and build services here for the community,” she said.

Conger also said libraries are evolving.

“We’re not just a warehouse of books. Our mission is people. It’s improving lives, improving the quality of life in the community. As a result, we have to grow and change with what our patrons are interested in,” she said.

Conger looks forward to seeing the Kershaw County Library system grow and is especially excited about a fourth library location for which planning is currently underway. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing where this library system will be in 10 years. As I learn more, we will continue to evolve and that’s going to be exciting to me, just seeing what type of partnerships we can build.”

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