By Anne Harris for the Island Eye News
There has always been a lot of pride associated with the word “local” in the Lowcountry, and you can’t get more local than Dolores Schweitzer, new branch manager of the Edgar Allan Poe Library. Born in Charleston and raised on Sullivan’s Island, Schweitzer is a true “Island girl.”
After her graduation from Wando High School, Schweitzer briefly left the area to attend Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, where she obtained a major in English Literature. After college, she worked various jobs before making the decision to return to school and get her Master’s in Library and Information Sciences from the University of South Carolina. For the next eight years Schweitzer worked as a librarian in Marietta, GA, until making her return to the Lowcountry as the school librarian at Laing Middle School.
In 2012, Schweitzer took a year off to travel and spend time with her family. Schweitzer and her mother visited 21 states and put over 11,000 miles on the family RV, she visited Las Vegas and Europe with her sister, and attended a good friend’s wedding in Hawaii.
“It was a great year,” Schweitzer says, “and when I finally got serious about my job search, I could not believe my good fortune when the Poe Branch Manager job was open.”
Schweitzer started training with the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) on November 15 and her first day as branch manager at the Poe Library was November 30.
“Because of its location in a Spanish-American War-era battery, the Poe Library is a unique blend of form and function that shows how old structures can be repurposed to preserve historic character on the outside while being dynamic spaces for inquiry and enjoyment on the inside,” Schweitzer says. “It is a rare combination of a museum and a community center, where visitors and islanders alike come to enjoy our programs, use our resources, and experience Island history in a tangible way.”
Having been “an enthusiastic card-carrier” since the age of five, Schweitzer is excited to get started with upcoming plans and events at the Poe Library. She is looking forward to sharing some of CCPL’s new programs, like February’s “Tech Tuedays” (an introduction to library apps for tablets and computers) with customers of all ages.
Upcoming events include the celebration of Edgar Allan Poe’s 205th birthday. The library will hold a special screening of George Maribal’s The Case of Magnolia Drew, a southern retelling of Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, on January 18. The Beach Lovers Book Club will start the month of January with a discussion of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler, before moving on to The Great Gatsby in February.
But Schweitzer’s plans reach beyond the immediate future.
“Believe it or not,” she says, “We are already starting to plan for Summer Reading. We have a science theme this year with lots of great programming possibilities.”
If anybody knows what the readers of Sullivan’s Island are looking for, it’s Schweitzer. Her memory of the island goes as far back as the “Big Snow” of 1979.
“My sister and I had never seen snow before, and there was probably less than two inches on the ground, but they called off school and that was reason enough to be excited,” she says with a laugh. “We built the most pathetic snowman you have ever seen. He sported quite a goth appearance since we had a bumper crop of sandspurs under the snow, and we picked up a lot of them as we rolled.”
Schweitzer admits that, while she doesn’t dwell on them, plenty of things have changed on the island over the years – mainly bigger, more expensive homes and more rules as to what you can and cannot do on the island. However, her list of what has not changed since she was a kid is much longer.
“Involved citizens, the lighthouse, oyster roasts and fish fries, church participation, people caring about their neighbors, a beach that has not been commercially developed, beautiful historic homes, a really nice National Park, and, of course, an incredibly cool library.”
Schweitzer says what excites her most about her new position is the privilege of serving a community that she loves.
“To know that I can be part of a legacy of encouragement and enlightenment that I have found in the staff and resources at Poe since I started going here in 1977? Well, that’s just an amazing gift.”
And finally, the parting words from the newest addition to the Poe library and longtime Island girl?
“I look forward to seeing everyone at the Poe Library soon. Y’all come!”
Learn more about the Edgar Allan Poe Library on the CCPL website at www.ccpl.org.