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Carolyn Abiah Shehee Williams

1:01 PM, Jan 27, 2012   |    comments
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When I think of African American women and their contributions to culture and history, the sacrifices each had to make comes to mind. Some of their sacrifices were simple -- to maintain the basic necessities -- while others were able to achieve beyond the routine. For those women who went beyond, they proved that it could be done. Women such as Septima Clark, a crusader for Black education, who fought for equal pay for Black teachers and their right to work in the schools in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. The action of Ms. Clark is an example of the sacrifices she and other trailblazers made to help pave the way for professional African American women in the work place. Bessie Coleman, the first African American female
aviator helped to support her large family in rural Texas by picking cotton and taking in laundry. Bessie could not attend school very often but she managed to educate herself by borrowing books from a travelling library. She eventually graduated from high school and attended one semester of
college. Unable to attend flight schools in America, Bessie taught herself French and moved to France where she became a successful aviator in only seven months. Ms. Coleman died in a deadly crash at Paxon Field in Jacksonville, Florida on April 30, 1926. These women achieved beyond their dreams.

My career in librarianship developed because I preferred to be indoors - reading. My love of books and my curiosity led me to reading and exploration. I am fascinated by bits and tidbits of information on a wide variety of topics. I view work in library administration as a constant learning opportunity. When I open my mind to learning, I also find that I am able to share with others through my experiences and knowledge. As Deputy Director of the Jacksonville Public Library, I direct public service operations - staffing, budget, goals and services. A portion of my
work consists of developing and maintaining relationships so that operations are effectively managed. I make every effort to maintain the balance needed to ensure that needs on all levels are realistically addressed. Historically libraries have provided a vital need in the community; this is just as true today as it will be tomorrow. As a librarian I have had the opportunity to inspire others to read through sharing the joy of books; by selecting wonderful titles that can allow one to travel, explore and escape;
and by enabling others to increase their knowledge. Over the years our system for information delivery has evolved, however the mission remains the same. As we venture through the 21st century we also help others to bridge the digital divide and access information using technology.

Beyond the nurturing of my father, mother and grandmother, I observed the habits and mannerisms of other women in my world. Their approach to many situations was always handled with finesse and grace. They provided encouragement and demonstrated an interest in helping others. There were many local librarians who served as trailblazers and role models. From each one I learned about maintaining a positive attitude
in the face of adversity, the lasting value of teamwork and the need for a continued commitment to our profession.

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