LUMBERTON — Books loom large in Katie Huneycutt’s life story, and the Whiteville native’s latest chapter finds her taking the reigns of the Robeson County Public Library.
When she was growing up, Huneycutt’s family made a weekly ritual out of visiting the local library. While attending the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, she made ends meet working at Books-a-Million and Barnes and Noble.
Huneycutt graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Music in 2007, and accepted a job as a music teacher and band instructor at the Roger Bacon Academy in Leland shortly after.
Though she remains passionate about early childhood development, Huneycutt described her time at the academy as disheartening and said her experience prompted her to leave the school in 2008.
“I loved being part of children’s education and encouraging growth, but I was not fond of the structure of the school system,” she said.
Huneycutt found her calling when she was selected by the Columbus County library system to manage a small branch in Fair Bluff, a position she held for four years.
“After about three or four months, I realized that it was the perfect way to be involved with [what I wanted to do],“ she said. “I enjoyed the freedom and flexibility the library offered and how it gave me the opportunity to promote education and reading.”
While working at the Fair Bluff Community Library, Huneycutt received her master’s degree in Library Science from North Carolina Central University, graduating summa cum laude in 2010.
In 2012, Huneycutt was hired as the youth services librarian for the Robeson County Public Library in downtown Lumberton, where she organized a series of educational enrichment programs for children. In January, she was made interim director following former library Director Catherine Roche’s departure for Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount. Huneycutt was named Roche’s permanent replacement on April 25.
In addition to overseeing day-to-day operations at the Lumberton library, Huneycutt will be responsible for branches in Pembroke, Fairmont, St. Pauls, Rowland, Maxton and Red Springs.
Huneycutt said she’s excited about her new role with the library and plans to make a number improvements across the board.
“I hope to get our technology upgraded and to expand our series and programs for children, teens and adults with a focus on early literacy,” she said. “I want to see the library become more of a hub for community activity.”
One of the ways in which Huneycutt is working to drive traffic to the Lumberton library is by using the facility as an exhibition space for local artists.
“I’m treasurer of the Robeson County Arts Council, so I’m ingrained in the local arts community,” she said. “I provide a space for artists to come in and show their art to the community. I want to expose people in Robeson County to the wealth of talent we have here.”
Huneycutt said she believes it was fate that steered her to the Robeson County Public Library.
“I was raised in the library culture and everything has led me back to libraries,” she said.
Five favorites from Katie
The Robesonian asked Katie Huneycutt, director of the Robeson County Public Library, to list her top five favorite books. She picked the following page-turners, all of which can be found at the library in downtown Lumberton:
* “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult (Atria; 2004): “A gripping portrayal of a family struggling with a child’s illness. One of my own family members was diagnosed with the same disease, so this book hit close to home,” Huneycutt said.
* “The City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare (McElderry; 2007): “This young adult fantasy novel reminds readers that magic and adventure are just beneath the surface.”
* “Leonardo, the Terrible Monster” by Mo Willems (Hyperion; 2005): “A delightfully funny picture book that illustrates the importance of choosing kindness, even for monsters. This is one of my favorite stories to read to children.”
* “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett (Penguin; 2009): “The cruelty and inequalities detailed in this bestselling novel infuriated me more than perhaps any other book I’ve read. It highlights the need for acceptance and greater respect for humanity, with a healthy dose of Southern humor thrown in.”
* “Confessions of a Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella (Dial Press; 2000): “This lighthearted first installment of the Shopaholic series is the perfect companion for the beach. I’ve never laughed so much reading a book.”
Jaymie Baxley can be reached at 910-272-6146, or on Twitter @Jaymie_Baxley