A native of Cornwall, Ontario who has spent the past four years directing a library downstate will be the next executive director of the Niagara Falls Public Library System. Sarah Potwin will take the position beginning July 1.
Potwin currently leads the LaGrange Library in Poughkeepsie. She says one of the biggest changes when she moves to Niagara Falls will be working with larger spaces. The Cataract City's system features two branches, including its large downtown location.
Potwin told WBFO that those interviewing her for the position suggested that the downtown branch might even have "too much space." She said a library can never have too much space and she has ideas for how to fill it. They include community gatherings and "maker spaces" where educators may provide live demonstrations ranging from art to technology.
"I see it as an opportunity to grow," Potwin said. "Libraries are evolving. We're no longer warehouses where we store dusty books. It's a place for our community to meet and gather and learn from each other."
Potwin recognizes an already existing strong relationship between the library system and city's public schools, telling WBFO that during her visit to Niagara Falls she witnessed students from neighboring Harry F. Abate Elementary School filling the children's library section with activity. She envisions growing relationships with local schools and fostering new ones.
"Community partnerships are a big part of what I do," Potwin said. "Niagara University, I think, is an untapped resource. Perhaps we can get some students to come over and do tutoring for elementary students. The possibilities are endless."
Potwin also looks forward to learning more about Niagara Falls history and culture. She enjoyed seeing the jail cell in the LaSalle branch of the library system, a remnant of the building's prior use.
She is also appreciative of the Canadian influence. As a native of Cornwall, Ontario, she recalled making numerous trips across the border into Massena while living there.
She has reportedly signed a three-year contract with an annual salary of $82,000.