When meeting Cayman’s new public library director, Kaurri Claire Williams-Cockfield, her cheerfulness, exuberance and passion for her career is impossible to overlook.
It seems that libraries are in her blood, almost.
Born and reared in southern Mississippi, Kaurri grew up with libraries. “My dad took me regularly when I was a little girl and I checked out my 10 books and he spent two weeks reading them to me over and over again, so libraries were always a part of my life,” she says.
Later, in her first year at college, while balancing a part-time job in a public library, she soon realised she had a lot on her plate. Originally her goal was to major in pre-med but, “after struggling one semester, I realised that probably pre-med was going to interfere with my social life,” she says.
She then asked herself what she would really like to do. “And I realised I really enjoyed working in the library,” she says. During her time working at the library, surrounded by information and helping people, her new career path began to unfold.
After switching her degree to Information Science at the University of Southern Mississippi, she enjoyed the course.
“I’m a computer nerd at heart. I love anything that has to do with the electronic manipulation of data…I like information systems and I enjoy the teaching aspect,” she smiles.
“I have lots of plans in motion,” she says with typical enthusiasm. “There is a lot of foundation work we need to do with the library system to bring it in line with 21st Century literacy goals.”
For starters, she wants to connect Cayman’s library system with other organisations that work to support literacy in the country.
“The library system should function as a social learning centre, which is a place where people can come and interact with one another as well as access information,” says Kaurri.
“Our fundamental goal is to improve the quality of life for everyone who sits in our community – that’s what a library does.”
Exploring the Island
In the short time she has been here (a few months), Kaurri has been checking out what the island has to offer.
“I absolutely loved the Botanic Park, the iguanas are fascinating to me. I think they are an incredible treasure. I’ve actually been out there three or four times already.”
She also notes a few similarities to life in Mississippi. “The climate is very similar and the vegetation. We have a big long beachfront [back home]. My parents grew up two blocks from the beach, but it’s all man-made and the water from the river is darker in colour, so the water is definitely more beautiful here.”
While appreciating the scenery in Cayman, Kaurri says she also loves the international aspect of Cayman. “I feel incredibly connected to the rest of the world when I sit at a meeting and there are people at my table and everyone is from a different country. The opportunities for sharing and learning about other cultures are just incredible,” she says.
Hobbies and interests
Kaurri’s many interests include gardening, crocheting and cooking. “My favourite dish to cook is shrimp stew,” she says, adding that she comes from a Cajun background.
She and her husband also enjoy camping in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee when they are back in the US.
And, not surprisingly, she loves to read. Among her favourite authors is mystery writer Michael Connelly. “At this point in my life … I like books written with a protagonist who is a woman, middle-aged, struggling with what the rest of your life brings,” she says.
Meanwhile, given her love of libraries, she encourages young people to consider studying Information Science at college. “It’s a fantastic field and librarians are needed more today than they have ever been needed. It’s the only profession that stands between someone who doesn’t understand how to use information and the vast glut of information that is being generated every day in a medium that everyone has access to.”
Why not visit the library and check it out? Sounds like a Weekender kind of activity.
GEORGE TOWN public LIBRARY HOURS
“I’m a computer nerd at heart. I love anything that has to do with the electronic manipulation of data.” KAURRI CLAIRE WILLIAMS COCKFIELD