Focusing on a career she truly loved, Carolyn J. Else retired in 1994 after a long tenure as director of the Pierce County Library’s Summit branch in Tacoma, Washington, beginning in 1965. In this prestigious role, one of her most prominent accomplishments included funding $3 million to expand the library. The library system circulates 6.9 million items annually, hosts seasonal youth story times, teen clubs, events for youth and adults, classes for skills development and technology, an active summer reading program, and connects with social media.
Ms. Else began her professional career as a librarian at the Queens Borough Public Library in New York in 1957, remaining in this position for two years before transferring to the U.S. Army Special Services in France and Germany between 1959 and 1962. Upon returning to the United States, she became an information librarian at Bennett Martin Library in Lincoln, Nebraska, for one year before ultimately moving to Washington. Once there, Ms. Else joined Pierce County Library as a branch librarian from 1963 to 1965 before taking on her most recent post. In addition to this tenure, she has served as a wellness consultant for Nikken, Inc. since 1994.
Before embarking on her professional journey, Ms. Else pursued a formal education at Stanford University, earning a Bachelor of Science in psychology in 1956. The following year, she matriculated at the University of Washington, where she obtained a Master of Library Science. In addition to these academic honors, Ms. Else is a certified professional librarian in the state of Washington.
Active in her local community, Ms. Else served on the board of directors for Campfire of Tacoma from 1984 to 1992 and on the study commission of the Washington State Local Governance from 1985 to 1988. She was also part of the Higher Education Council of the South Puget Sound from 1988 to 1992, the board of directors of Community Health Care from 1997 to 2003, and the distribution committee of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation from 2005 to 2011. Furthermore, Ms. Else has contributed her time as a member on the board of directors of the Tacoma Philharmonic from 2005 to 2012 and the advisory committee of Tacoma Community College from 2007 to 2009.
To keep herself updated of trends in her field, Ms. Else has maintained involvement with a number of related organizations. From 1969 to 1971, she served as secretary of the Pacific Northwest Library Association and vice president of the Washington Library Association. Since then, she has gone on to serve the Tacoma Rotary #8 Club on its board of directors from 1995 to 1997 and exchange student committee since 2008. She has also chaired the board of directors of the Condominium Association of Tacoma for the last nine years. Furthermore, Ms. Else supports the American Library Association, the Rotary Club, and the City Club.
Separated from others in her field by her broader experience, Ms. Else would like to be remembered by her peers as someone who was fair and concerned for the people she works for and with. Her favorite part of her career was always helping people, be it staff members or the general public. She found this aspect to be a large motivator. During her career, Ms. Else would often travel while also raising her two wonderful children, Stephen Alexander and Catherine Elizabeth.