The Charleston County Public Library Award for Extraordinary Contributions recognizes staff, board members, volunteers, patrons, community partners, and more, past and present, who have made a lasting and significant impact on the library system. Through their deeds, these individuals have helped permanently shape the future of CCPL.
For future award nominees, both the CCPL Board of Trustees and CCPL staff leadership will submit applications to a committee for review. Once a year, the committee will select applications that meet the criteria for an Extraordinary Contributions. The Board of Trustees will then vote on the applications to determine who receives the award. Award recipients will be recognized with a permanent plaque in one library location determined by the Board to be pertinent of the contributions identified, as well as displaying their name and biographical information on the CCPL website.
Janet Segal grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, where her love of reading and books began. She frequently visited her local library, which grew that love. It extended to her adult life when she became an elementary and special needs teacher.
“I wanted to pass on my love of reading to children,” she said. “Having my own classroom was a thrill!”
Segal said she recognized literacy was a challenge in South Carolina and so she and a friend founded Begin With Books (BWB), the local affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides children from birth-to-5 years-old the ability to build their personal libraries with free books delivered by mail. BWB has delivered 393,395 books to 13,570 children since 2010, according to Segal.
She went on to serve on the Charleston County Public Library Board of Trustees starting in 2008 and was Board Chair from 2010-2016. During that time, Segal was instrumental in updating bylaws, policies and procedures, the recruitment of new directors and strategic planning for the system. In 2011, Segal spearheaded the efforts in building a plan to enhance and grow CCPL. In 2014, voters of Charleston County approved a referendum by 74 percent that would fund the building of five new library branches and the renovation of the existing branches.
Segal continued to serve the Lowcountry community as a volunteer through organizations like the Mayor’s Commission of Women, the Charleston County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council, the Lunch Buddy/Mentor program through Charleston County School District, Freedom School, and the Illumination Project. She has worked as a political consultant for both local and federal candidates. Over the years, Segal said she has enjoyed a variety of careers that included conservation technologist in a museum, an arbitrator, founder of several nonprofits, shipyard manager of the Spirit of SC, owned her own event company and was director of education for Spoleto Festival USA. Janet earned a B.S. in Education and M.S. in Special Education.