The success of the High Point Public Library comes down to three ingredients:
- Visionary library staff who were connected to the community and saw the opportunities associated with working more closely with community partners
- Strong library leadership focused on trying bold new things in collaboration with high-level city leadership
- A local community looking to change and interested in trying new things to bring about community revitalization
High Point Public Library entered a new phase in its community partnerships and relationships around the year 2011. The library has always been community-oriented, but around 2011, under the new leadership of Mary Sizemore, the library started looking for new opportunities to be a community leader around community health.
Two visionary library staff members played key roles in orchestrating this work: Nic Covington and Maxine Days (pictured above).
Nic joined the library in 2007 as the Marketing Manager and Maxine Days joined the library around 1998 as an after school program coordinator.
Both had done great work for the library previous to 2011, but under Sizemore’s leadership they were encouraged to think even more creatively about how the library could be a community partner.
Around 2011, Library staff member Maxine Days started adult health programming in collaboration with partners, while Nic simultaneously started working with partners to plant the library’s teaching garden (still going strong 12 years later!).
Nic was instrumental in getting the teaching garden going by being involved in the early days of the farmer’s market and working with the children’s department to get the Culinary kids program set up. He was a catalyst for a lot of health programming and partnerships, and got the ball rolling before he left, handing over the garden and his partnership with the Greater High Point Food Alliance to his collaborator Mark Taylor, who continues to passionately support this work to this day. Nic was a gardener and was personally interested in physical health as well. He had an outgoing personality and had connections in the community that he wove into his professional practices.
Maxine Days also had many connections in the community formed during the previous 15+ years working at the library, which she was able to mobilize in support of health programming and partnerships when she was provided a platform to do so by Mary Sizemore.
When Maxine goes out in the community, her goal is always trying to get people to come into the library – whether as patrons, as partners, or as both. Maxine also maintains lifelong connections with many in the community that she is not afraid to leverage and organize for the library and for the community. Maxine has been in High Point for a long time and people know her and respect her. Maxine is also enormously respected by the staff at High Point Public Library, who support her as best they can.
Maxine and Nic laid the foundation in their early partnerships, setting the stage for the library to become a more integral part of the community under the leadership of Mary Sizemore.
Fellow library staff report that Maxine is good for brainstorming with, is upfront about what she needs to be successful, and is very efficient throughout. In conversation she always seems like she is in a positive mood and enthusiastic about things. Maxine is really excellent at making programs sustainable. Maxine is just really good at maintaining relationships. She remembers facts about people and what is going on with them and she stays in regular contact with people. She is very humble but she also has a confidence that makes it clear that she’s got things under control and she’s an organized person to partner with.
Maxine is also a great connector. Although her official job is focused on adult services, she always connects partners to other units as fitting. For instance, one of the library’s longest partnerships is with an organization called Recipe for Success, an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase food literacy, primarily among youth. Maxine connected this partner to the children’s department, the children’s department then worked with Recipe for Success on monthly cooking classes for kids, which have now been offered almost continuously at the library (including virtually during the COVID-19 Pandemic) since 2015. Maxine initially got connected to Recipe for Success because they had a table at one of Maxine’s adult-oriented health fairs that she organizes on an annual basis in the library with an ever-growing number of community partners.