Alumna Joyce Searcy aims to make Nashville’s libraries more accessible
Joyce Searcy, MS’78, grew up in segregated Yazoo City, Mississippi, where going to the public library would have meant entering through its back door. Today, as the first Black person to serve as chair of the Nashville Public Library board, she wants all of her Middle Tennessee neighbors to check out what the public libraries have to offer.
When she was a child, her college-educated parents ordered books for her and her six brothers and sisters to spare them the humiliation of segregation. She has not set foot in her hometown library to this day.
“I got my books in the mailbox with my name on the box, which was thrilling,” Searcy recalled. “We were all avid readers, but there was so much more to which I could have been exposed.”
Searcy, who began her term in July 2021, believes the library system has something to offer everyone—from parents looking to provide resources for their children to teens taking advantage of the latest technology to seniors learning to be more comfortable with technological advances. She is working to make sure Nashville’s libraries are available and accessible to the entire community.
Searcy has a track record of holding founding roles, including as the current director of community relations at Belmont University, where she works with governmental and neighborhood organizations, nonprofits and churches to strengthen the university’s outreach programs.