Effective August 5, Harry R. Courtright is retiring from the Maricopa County Library District.
Gone, but certainly not forgotten.
Courtright has served as the District's director and county librarian since January 1999.
has left an indelible imprint on the Library District since his
arrival from Michigan.
challenged libraries to become more customer-centric.
"That's right," said Courtright
, "we expect our employees from top to bottom to listen to our customers and provide them with the library services they want."
Several awards have been accorded Courtright
for this innovative process.
has welcomed more than 50 library representatives from throughout the world to learn more about Dewey-less.
Some have adopted the Dewey-less model for their own libraries.
"Under Harry Courtright's leadership, the Library District has received many prestigious awards for its innovative programs and technology," said Maricopa County manager David Smith.
retirement will be felt by everyone in the Maricopa County family," Smith said.
also implemented the one-desk concept, a process that centralized in each library a one-only desk-location (instead of 3 or 4) where customers go to ask questions or seek help.
The set-up frees other library personnel to rove the libraries to assist customers in need.
"We are making better use of technology," said Courtright
Customers can check-out and check-in their books through a self-check system, saving librarians for more meaningful interactions with customers.
"We have added more e-books to our collection and more options to our virtual branch so that customers have more flexibility to check-out digital books.
They can also now download weekly free music selections," he
Since 1999, Courtright
has opened or rededicated 15 libraries in the District
, the newest being the White Tank Branch Library & Nature Center
This year, White Tank became the first Arizona library to receive a LEED Platinum designation for its sustainable attributes.
Courtright's vision of using green technology and forging a partnership with Maricopa County Parks and Recreation has paved the way for savings and innovation.
"For awhile, we were opening two libraries a year," Courtright
"More importantly, we have continued to give customers additional options for library services in underserved communities.
Since 2008, MCLD
has opened five additional libraries.
"We have always tried to be constant, consistent and inventive when meeting customer needs and helping employees and the organization succeed while navigating the potentially treacherous waters of budget reform.
Needless to say, it's an incredible balancing act to satisfy all suitors," Courtright
"Fortunately, I've been surrounded and supported by colleagues, co-workers and creative employees who continue to honor our commitment to graciously serve the District's
growing base of customers," Courtright
"If there is a Courtright legacy," he
opined, "it's manifested by how well we've tuned in to our customers' needs and what we've done to develop a quality, excited staff."
Ever mindful of self-assessment, Courtright
suggested that he
was disappointed that MCLD
had not developed a better working relationship with some of the area's independent libraries.
"I plan to make my retirement home in Southern California," said Courtright
"My hopes are to visit more with family and friends, travel more, do a little consulting, and, of course, read more," he