When Corinne Hill ('92, '95 M.S.) arrived at the Chattanooga Public Library as the new executive director in 2012, she knew before opening the door that there was plenty of work to be done to repair and bring the outdated facility into the future.
She and her team transformed the Tennessee library into a collaborative learning center for all ages, complete with e-book rentals, technology classes and a creativity lab. For her work, she was heralded in 2014 as Library Journal's Librarian of the Year, UNT's Department of Library and Information Sciences Outstanding Alumna and she was invited to the American Library Association's summit at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
Hill studied library science at UNT under the guidance of Herman Totten, now dean of the college; Yvonne Chandler, associate professor; and Margaret Nichols, now Professor Emeritus. Then Hill paid the gift forward as interim director of libraries at the Dallas Public Library, mentoring UNT students and as an active member of UNT's Alumni Association.
"When you graduate, it's not over. The people you meet along the way help you move forward," Hill says. "I will always have a soft spot for UNT."
In Chattanooga, Hill's library staff powered the Gig Library Project, making it one of the first libraries in the U.S. to provide free one-gigabit-per-second fiber Internet service, which allows for faster e-book downloads and community partnerships. She credits her staff.
"All of us have different strengths and interests that we bring to the table," she says. "We hire really interesting people who don't always fit the librarian stereotype."
Staff members teach classes and workshops that include coding, Arduino, button making and Tai Chi.
"It's not just about the books anymore," Hill says. "I want to set the pace for libraries and make sure we're always looking on the horizon."