Q&A with Caitlin Moen, Chief Customer Officer and Library Director

Caitlin Moen joined Charlotte Mecklenburg Library as Collections and Access leader in 2018, and her calm demeanor, strategic thinking, and innovative, community-focused approach were quickly apparent. She stepped into a new role as Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Chief Customer Officer / Library Director on June 1, 2020…the same day the Library entered the first stage of a phased reopening process. Caitlin took a moment out of the whirlwind to reflect on what’s ahead.

What most excites you about this new role?

I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with all aspects of the organization and learn more about the areas and teams I have not yet had the chance to work with closely. I have loved getting to know about collections and circulation; I am really looking forward to working with Education, Outreach, and many of the branch staff to really get to know them and help to support the amazing work they do. I love learning new things and at the Library there is definitely no shortage of things to learn!

You are starting your new role right as the Library reopens. How do you think the COVID-19 crisis will change libraries in the short-term and the long-term?

In the short-term I think we are going to be very focused on building some foundational standards to be able to react quickly to changing conditions. There is such a need right now to be adaptable and nimble to a constantly evolving environment and I think the Library will need to be able to change quickly to continue serving the community.

As I look further to the future I am energized by the possibilities that lie down the road. I think there is a great deal of opportunity to look at what we are doing now and start to integrate those things into our normal mode of business. The physical/virtual balance will definitely change, beyond balancing e-books and print books and moving to try to balance virtual programming and creating community at a distance while continuing to offer all the in-person services we always have.

What’s the most important thing the Library can do for the community right now?

The Library is going back to its foundation: improving lives and building a stronger community. This means bringing back all the services that customers depend on, including access to materials, technology, and information. It also means looking for new ways to foster community and to empower individuals in this new COVID-19 environment. This time of challenge creates new opportunities to change the ways we operate to form new partnerships and reach more people across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Along the way we need to continue to serve as a model for deliberate operations that put staff and customer safety as the priority.

You’ve been a library supporter for years, even before you began working for this library. Why?

I grew up in Minnesota going to a small neighborhood library about a 6-mile bike ride from home. I loved those visits and I loved trying to beat my record every year for the summer reading challenge. I went to college knowing that I wanted to contribute to that community of reading that I experienced. However, the more I learned about public libraries and the work they do, the more I have grown committed to contributing to this work of equity, access, and relationship. I have loved the work I have done in academic and special libraries, but public libraries have this unique identity of creating enduring and long-term community while still serving as a catalyst for such important social conversations. I am so glad and honored to be part of that.

And we have to ask…what are you reading?

I’ve got The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek staring at me from my bedside table! I am excited to get going on that one – I’ve been wanting to read it for a while. First though I am going to finish Dreamland Burning. I just started it based on the recommendation of a book blog I follow and I am already getting pulled in to the story. And I guess I should get on the holds list for The Vanishing Half – that’s a new title that is my book club’s pick for next month!

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