Home News Local news On Island Profile: Carol McGuinness

On Island Profile: Carol McGuinness


Jan. 16, 2006 – Carol McGuinness answered an ad in a trade journal for a librarian at Elaine I. Sprauve Library back in 1993. Sight unseen, she moved to St. John for the job. More than a dozen years later, she's still there.
"I like my job cause I'm the boss," she said.
She also said she likes it because every day is different. McGuinness said she never knows when she arrives in the morning whether she'll help someone find what they need, order materials, visit with tourists who stop by to check their e-mail on the library's computers, or mop the floor.
The job has many challenges, however. The library's lack of air conditioning is chief among them. McGuinness said that everything gets dusty because the dirt blows in the open windows. And the books deteriorate thanks to the warm and damp conditions.
She said renovations are planned for the library, including plastering the outside of the 18th-century building, purchasing a generator, sealing the floors, and installing an air conditioner.
Should the government's plans fall through, McGuinness said, the Friends of the Library is in the midst of a long-term effort to raise money for the air conditioning system.
McGuinness had lots of nice words for the Friends group, which has grown considerably in recent years. She said the Friends efforts have helped the library improve its services to the point that other groups are involved.
"The better the services, the more donations we get," she said.
She said Rotary Club of St. John members read to students during story hour. Additionally, local firefighters help out with the myriad problems that happen in an old building.
"I tell them to bring their tools," she said.
McGuinness was born in Morristown, N.J., 62 years ago. After graduating from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut with a bachelor's degree in health and physical education, she became a stay-at-home mom taking care of her two children.
Aleksander, called Ernie for short, is now 38, and Anastasia is 36. Between them, they've made McGuinness a grandmother six times. Her grandchildren are ages one to 12.
"It's expensive," she said, laughing as she talked about the joys of grandmotherhood.
After her husband died when she was in her 40s, she was faced with earning a living. Not interested in teaching what she trained for, physical education, she began substitute teaching and working as a media coordinator at Darien High School in Connecticut. That led to a post as substitute librarian at the Darien public library.
With a developing interest in library science, she went on to get a master's degree in library and media education from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn.
McGuinness also has another interesting avocation. She enjoys watching figure skating on the television, preferring the comfort of her couch to watching it in a cold ice rink.
She's also the volunteer chairman of the American Red Cross' Disaster Services on St. John, a job that she said gives her much satisfaction because she's been able to help people grow to their potential.
And when she's not at her desk at the library?
"I read," she said.

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