Beth Barlow Retires, new Surrey Chief Librarian named

Chief Librarian, Beth Barlow, is retiring on December 30, 2011 after 11 years at the helm of Surrey Libraries and nearly 40 years as a librarian. She came to Surrey in January 2001, following a career that took her across all three Prairie Provinces in increasingly responsible positions. She notes that “my years in Surrey were the most satisfying and enjoyable of my career. I’ll miss everyone from our visionary Mayor and Council to the excellent staff in Surrey’s libraries”. She adds that “celebrating the Grand Opening of the City Centre Library was my proudest moment as a librarian – the throngs of people ringing the balconies that day to share in the event took my breath away!”

Surrey has seen its library system expand during Ms. Barlow’s tenure, with the opening of the Semiahmoo Library in 2003 and the City Centre Library this fall. Semiahmoo Library was the first “green” library building in Canada and the only one with an exterior living wall; City Centre Library is the most architecturally striking public library in the country. Beth has chaired the Surrey/White Rock Community Literacy Planning table since its inception and is a strong advocate for literacy in the community.

Beth Barlow was recognized by Surrey’s business community with the Surrey Board of Trade’s Surrey Women in Business Award in 2011 for a Not-for-Profit Corporation, and by the Association of British Columbia Public Library Directors with their annual Director’s Award in 2011 as well. She is an active member of the Semiahmoo Rotary Club and is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow.

She plans to stay in Surrey, with regular trips to see family and friends in other parts of Canada, travel to satisfy her “bucket lists” and volunteering in the community. Beth is looking forward to having time to read some of the print and e-books in the Surrey Libraries collection.

Melanie Houlden has been appointed as Surrey’s new Chief Librarian, starting January 1, 2012. She has been the Deputy Chief Librarian for 10 years and a member of the staff since 1983, achieving increasingly responsible positions over the years. Melanie is also active in the community. She is the Chair of the Board of Trade’s Environment Committee and a member of its Business Excellence Awards Committee, as well as a longstanding member of the Surrey Leader’s Community Leader Awards Committee. She participates in the Surrey/White Rock Community Literacy Planning Table and the Surrey Schools Welcome Centre Settlement Committee, and is the past co-chair of the Make Children First Committee.

Melanie has also been active in the provincial library scene – she is a Director of the British Columbia Library Association and a recent Past-President. She has participated in a variety of provincial and regional library initiatives.

Surrey Libraries are in good hands as the torch passes from Beth to Melanie.

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