The Newport Beach director of Library Services announced that she will retire Oct. 5 and relocate to Nashville, according to a city news release issued today.
Cynthia Cowell, whose career spans three decades in public libraries throughout the Southwest, took over the Newport Beach library system in June 2008, the statement said.
“I knew this day would eventually come,” said City Manager Dave Kiff in the statement. “It just seemed to come more quickly than I had hoped. Her expertise, vision and, of course, her Texas charm are a winning combination. During Cynthia’s time here, she made our outstanding and award-winning library system even better.”
The city statement said her most significant achievement was advocating and overseeing the expansion of the Central Library as part of the Civic Center project. She also was praised for leading the library’s implementation of electronic services, including circulating iPads, Nooks and Kindles, and installing a Radio Frequency Identification system, “all while still understanding and respecting the desire of the many readers who still love to hold a printed book.”
“I hold a steadfast belief that libraries do still matter, even in the face of the Internet and a world driven by virtually instant access to information,” she said in the statement.
Cowell’s husband is a Tennessee native and has been doing consulting work in the Nashville area for several years, the statement said. The couple had a long-term plan to move to Tennessee permanently, but the timeframe changed in the past six months, the statement said.
“Two things happened,” she said in the statement. “Professionally, we completed the library expansion. Personally, my husband and I came upon a great home in Nashville near his extended family. It was too good to pass up so we bought it and our Orange County home is on the market. This is the right time for me to relocate and join my husband.”
Cowell plans to volunteer in public libraries in Nashville and has already reached out to colleagues there, the statement said.