The Hernando County Public Library System (HCPLS), like all other public agencies in the time of COVID-19, has undergone many changes in the past few months; taking many services online before re-opening to the public at 25 percent capacity beginning Monday, May 4, with limited hours of operation. And through all of the changes, the library has thrived under the direction of a skilled leadership team that includes a newly instated library services manager; one that brings 25 years of experience to the job.
Cynthia Loftis-Culp of Brooksville began her library career in October 1994 as a Library Page at the Hernando County Public Library System in Brooksville. Yet what started as a part-time job to supplement her studies in the field of dental medicine quickly evolved into a future life's passion.
"I quickly discovered that I liked library work more than dentistry," she said.
Loftis-Culp felt an immediate affinity for library life.
"Every day at a library is something different, and presents a new challenge," she said. "I also love the camaraderie and the teamwork among library staff members."
Backing up her enthusiasm with a good bit of education, Loftis-Culp went on to earn an associate in arts degree and an AS in Business Administration and Management degrees from Pasco-Hernando Community College, a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Hodges University and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida.
Through the years, Loftis-Culp has invested her extensive knowledge into a two-decade career in the field of library services management; continuing to serve the Hernando County Public Library System 1996-2011 in the roles of Library Information Specialist I, Assistant Supervisor/Library Information Specialist II, and Library Services Supervisor.
She continued her career in the Sumter County Library System 2011 - 2016, serving as a Collection Development & Acquisitions Coordinator, Interim Assistant Library Director, Technical Services Coordinator, and Library Services Supervisor.
"She has spent the past 2.5 years working for Lee County Library System/Northwest Regional as its principal librarian," read a related news release from the Hernando County Government Office of Public Information. "In this role, she provided leadership to library personnel and worked closely with branch department heads to ensure effective service delivery, programming and outreach coordination."
Through the years, Loftis-Culp has seen the library morph from a place to find books to a place to find jobs, cultural and social events, free public computer usage, educational activities, and more.
"The library is now a community hub," she said. "You meet so many different people, from a wide variety of backgrounds, jobs and education levels."
"It's nice to help them find whatever they're looking for," she surmised.
And what they are looking for, she says, changes all the time--even as it remains the same.
"People will always want physical books, to read and to hold," she said. "But as the community evolves, we have to keep up, to take things to the next level as far as technology and information."
Loftis-Culp came home to the Hernando County Library System in February, when she assumed a position as a library services manager.
"Now I'm back at home," she said, "with the family I know."
And Loftis-Culp's Hernando family is more than pleased to welcome her home.
"Our libraries are an excellent resource for our residents,” said Deputy County Administrator Tobey Phillips in a related news release. “ and I believe Cynthia has the experience and skills necessary to help this resource continue to thrive in our community.”
Loftis-Culp holds a multitude of job responsibilities, from planning, organizing and administering programs and procedures governing library services to establishing goals and objectives for county library services, working closely with the Library Advisory Committee and Friends of the Library to conducting public presentations with civic, educational and other interest groups, directing work assignments and for establishing/assigning projects and staff as appropriate to developing and managing implementation of long-range library planning, coordinating budgets for all library outlets, and much more.
"The goal is always to make a difference and bring the knowledge," she said. "To provide the staff with what they need to provide a high level of service."
Shortly after assuming her new position, Loftis-Culp faced an additional challenge: managing services at a library system effectively closed to the public, and in the wake of a global pandemic.
"I've been tasked with organizational change," she said. "When we had to close, our mission remained the same. We provided the same services, but with more electronic resources. By working as a team, we keep the library together and give the public what they need."
Loftis-Culp said that she and the library staff are seeking public suggestions in forging a path forward for the Hernando County Library System. To contact the library, reach out by telephone or email at: 352-754-4043 or [email protected]
"As the system continues to grow," she said, "We always work with one goal: to make the patrons happy."