Nolan Lushington - Library Innovator

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Word has been received that Nolan Lushington, former Director of the Greenwich Library from 1966 to 1988, died on June 12, 2013, in Hartford CT.

Nolan was widely-known in library circles as an innovator, who implemented many "cutting edge" programs.  He was well ahead of his time in many respects.

The Greenwich Library is a very successful library today in great part due to Nolan Lushington's influence. 



Nolan Lushington was born in Jamaica, British West Indies, in 1929.  He moved with his family to New York during the Depression, and was naturalized.  Nolan was raised in New York, and attended many fine schools including Peter Stuyvesant High School (1943 to 1945).  He graduated from Columbia College (AB) in 1950 with a commission in the US Marine Corps.  In 1953,  Columbia University awarded him an MA in history.  He taught at St. Andrews School in Delaware, and developed an interest in Library Science.  From 1954 to 1958, he completed a Masters in Library Science at Columbia University.  His first library job was at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where he worked for Emerson Greenaway.  Lushington was greatly influenced by many of Greenaway's progressive ideas about libraries. He felt the library should be a vehicle through which citizens could change and challenge established conventions.  Citizens could use the library to learn and keep current with new concepts. The library was more than just shelves and books. It was also a center for cultural exchange and programs that could help patrons find a new job, get fit, learn about travel to distant places and generally change their lifestyles.  He also believed libraries could enhance their physical appearance and efficiency with lighting, furniture, and floor plans.  During the sixties, the country was undergoing a social revolution, and Nolan seemed to fit right in with his progressive ideas.

Nolan came to Greenwich Library in 1962 as a Group Services Librarian.   After 3 months, he became Assistant to the Director, and eventually became the Director of the Greenwich Library from 1966 to 1989.  During his tenure, Nolan was involved with 3 separate expansions of the Library.  He helped relocate the library from Greenwich Avenue to its present location in 1962.  He oversaw the addition of the Cole Auditorium and a centralized Reference desk in 1969 , and the addition of the second floor Film and Fine Arts Department in 1989.  Some of the information service operations languishing in the basement were brought up to the first floor near the entrance to increase visibility and service.  Not only did information services increase, but circulation of materials increased as well.  Visits to the library also increased, doubling in 10 years.   He integrated film services with information services at one desk.   Under his direction, one of the first computerized catalogs in the state (and the country) was installed at the Library in 1973.   Telephone reference was combined with traditional  reference.   The art gallery was remodeled.  New furniture was installed to improve aesthetics.  Signage was improved, and book lists, flyers and brochures were published to help patrons find materials.  The Local History collection was developed, and he invested in a rare book collection as a hedge against financial difficulties.  The grounds were landscaped to hide the parking lot and complement the building, and a plaza with seating was added so the staff and public could sit outside.  A wall and berm was constructed to help shield the parking lot. Nolan worked hard to resolve many of the parking issues.  Following a trip to England in 1972,  he had a snack bar built in the lower level thus creating the first library cafe in the nation!

Physical enhancements were only part of his legacy.  He added a number of paraprofessional Library Technical Assistants to improve service. Nolan involved everyone in discussions about new ideas, budgets and service.   His meetings were renowned as "brainstorming sessions".    Staff training and development became a top priority.  Business services were expanded, an educational service (with information on local education programs) was created, and he sought new ways to get people into the building.  Nolan coordinated the efforts of the Town, Board and Friends to fund the library.  He promoted the new Cole Auditorium as a way to raise funds through rentals. 

Networking was also one of his strengths.  He helped build one of the first statewide library lending services.  This provided the vehicle for libraries to share their collections and expand information.   Nolan also helped kick off a Library Link program in Fairfield County to speed up requests for materials between local libraries.    He was elected President of the Connecticut Library Association in 1970.

From 1989 to 2002, he was an adjunct who taught film, then Associate Professor in the School of Library Science at Southern Connecticut State University.  He started a consulting group (Lushington Associates), that provided seminars and workshops on library planning and effectiveness around the country.  He even assisted Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich with space planning.  Nolan co-authored books on library design including "Library Buildings Designed for Users" (1980) and "Design and Evaluation of Public Library Buildings" (1991).  He also wrote "Libraries Designed for Kids" (2008). His book on "How To Use The Library" was published in 1998.  His articles were published in such magazines as American Libraries and Public Library Journal

Nolan received numerous awards for his work, including the Emerson Greenaway Award for outstanding leadership from the New England Library Association. He was also named to the Council of Library Resources as a Fellow.  Lushington served for a time as Chairman of the Buildings and Equipment section of the American Library Association.

Nolan Lushington was not your average Librarian.  He liked to sail on Long Island Sound, shoot at the Cos Cob Gun Club, and ride a motorcycle to work!  Travel was also one of Nolan's passions. He had many diverse interests, and Greenwich Library (and the community) are much better for it.

Thank you, Nolan Lushington, for your foresight and leadership.  And thank you for bringing honor to our profession!    RIP.


The Greenwich Library Since 1960; Oral History Project, Friends of the Greenwich Library; Cole, Marie and Lushington, N; 1978

Greenwich Time


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Carl White published on September 3, 2013 8:56 PM.

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