When Janet McNeil Hurlbert started at
Lycoming College in 1982, the Snowden
Library was a much different place. There
have been many improvements since she
became director in 2000, but she refuses
to take all the credit, saying it has been a
team effort among her staff.
“One of my contributions since
coming here was establishing the library
instruction program that we have now,”
she said.
After Lycoming, she plans to become
more active in the community and
devote more time to her music. She
is taking oboe lessons with the goal
of performing with the New Horizons
Band, a Williamsport-based concert
band for seniors. She also loves quilting,
gardening, yoga and Zumba classes,
and hopes to spend more time with her
grandchildren, who reside in Rochester,
Hurlbert said what she will miss most
about Lycoming is the process of having
ideas and then implementing them.
“Making things happen, that’s what I’ll
miss the most.”
When she first began working,
academic libraries did not have
competitors, such as the Internet, and
Barnes and Noble. Now, students and
faculty expect the best information
available in a comfortable setting, and
she and her staff strive to make that
possible. “In the past, we were sure the
information the students were getting
was pure,” she said in regard to Internet
research. “We bought the best books so
the students had the best.”
The most sustaining project under
her directorship is perhaps the creation
of the College Archives, which is now a
permanent division of the library. What
started as just a few boxes has become a
cozy environment with archival materials
available at the click of a button, along
with space for displays and programs.
“We have a team
that works on digital
initiatives,” she
said. “For a small
school to have such
a comprehensive
archive … I hope
that’s a lasting
She said another
project she is proud
of is the Williamsport
Women: Voices,
Images, Actions
history collection
that is a cooperative
community project
between the College,
the Lycoming County
Historical Society and
the James V. Brown
Library. The project
highlights the history
of local women in
volunteer and reform
organizations, education, the arts, the
workplace and private lives. The first part
of the collection covers the time period
1875-1925, but materials are continually
In 2011, Hurlbert secured for the
College a Louisa May Alcott grant from
the American Library Association and the
National Endowment for the Humanities
to host readings, presentations and a
screening focused on Alcott’s life and
work. She has helped the college secure
more than $100,000 in grants throughout
her tenure.
She said the Snowden Library has
seen significant growth in its annual
door count with 146,000 entrances to the
library last year, compared to 90,000 in
“We’ve tried to make it student-
centered and as comfortable as possible,”
she said. “It’s something I’m proud of.”
By Dana Borick Brigandi
Janet McNeil
Associate dean and director of library services
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