It is not surprising to Cyndee Sturgis Landrum that most of her career has involved libraries. The Chicago native grew up in libraries.
“My mom, probably when I was about 10, took a job at a medical library. It was down the street from where I attended grammar school,” says the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library chief executive officer and director. “So you can imagine every day after school I would walk to the library.”
Landrum came to Evansville’s library system in January 2016. She holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois; a master’s degree in library science from the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and is a doctorial candidate in managerial leadership for the information professions from Simmons College, Boston. Her career has taken her all over the country, working in libraries in Oak Park, Illinois; Pittsburgh; and Glendale, Arizona. Landrum had interviewed for a position at EVPL before, but in the end was unable to join the library.
“I used to jokingly tell my friends Evansville was the one that got away,” she says. “But it goes to show, what is meant to be will be.”
Landrum’s job at EVPL has put her in a prime position to see the recent rebirth of Downtown Evansville, and she aims to make sure the libraries play a role in the growth being seen throughout the city.
“We are sort of asking ourselves the question, ‘Do our policies really reflect the experience we want to have with our users or that our users want to have?’” she says. “So you’ll see the library outside of itself … you’ll find us many places.”
The hope for Landrum is for the library to be a part of many community events to connect with residents by issuing cards and working with patrons to remove barriers to using the library. Plans also include growing community capital, which Landrum explains is the type of capital that helps the area grow.
“I see the library as one of the most democratic spaces in the community, in the sense that we’re open to all,” she says. “We have the potential to really spur change.”
And change is what she hopes to continue to instill not only in Evansville, but in her staff as well.
“Being able to contribute to building the community, whether it is civic awareness or social and cultural inclusion — helping people change their lives or broaden their perspectives — for me that really is rewarding,” says Landrum.
For more information on the EVPL, call 812-428-8200 or visit evpl.org.