–by Sylvania AdVantage Staff
PUBLICATION DATE: Nov 01, 2019
What attracted you to the Toledo Lucas County Public Library?
I was a regular TLCPL user when I lived here back in the early 2000s, and I’m extremely humbled by the opportunity to head up an organization that I experienced firsthand doing so much for so many people. I left town to get a graduate degree in library science with my girlfriend at the time (now my wife, Megan Plesea). I was working in New York City running a library member association when I got the call from our late director asking if I was interested in interviewing for the system’s Deputy Director position. Being a firsthand TLCPL customer and then seeing library systems around the country, I knew we had a gem here in TLCPL. It was a surprisingly easy decision to move back here for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What do you see as your role as library director?
I see the role of the director as defining and affirming our organization’s culture and values. I dug into that work as a Deputy Director when I worked with a team of administrators to define our system’s values as part of our current strategic plan. TLCPL is truly a world-class library system, so it’s no surprise I work with a talented team of library leaders. It’s my job to affirm good decisions made by our leaders and empower our entire staff to lead from wherever they are. If we continue building an organization that is empathetic and accountable, our ability to provide excellent service to everyone in our community improves exponentially.
What innovations do you plan to initiate?
We have such a bright future ahead for us and our community at the Library. I have been thinking a lot lately about the role we serve in a region of makers, dreamers and doers. Our 20 locations are bustling with activity every hour of every day of the week, with people across age, racial, religious and cultural spectrums. In an era where such differences increasingly divide people, the Library is a shared space where people gather and linger, learn and explore, and make connections that strengthen the community.
People have asked me what kind of big changes they can expect from the library under my leadership, and I feel a little chagrined when I have to say I don’t know right now. The public libraries, as an institution, have remained so vibrant and relevant to the communities they serve because they are rooted in tradition with the flexibility and foresight to adapt to the changing needs of a community. So change happens constantly and gradually in the library, and people can expect to see the library continue to provide access to new technologies, promote a love of reading, and empower members of our community to be successful.
Tell us about your family and background.
I grew up in Willoughby (20 minutes east of Cleveland) and I did my undergrad and a master’s degree at Bowling Green State University. While working on that degree, I co-founded a nonprofit independent media organization (Allied Media Projects) and co-published an internationally distributed magazine (Clamor). My wife and I met after I moved those businesses to Toledo in the early 2000s, and we moved to Tucson together in 2006 to get our graduate degrees in Library Science. Then we moved to New York City where we both worked in non-traditional library jobs — she as a digital asset manager for an image agency and I eventually heading a non-profit library association for libraries throughout the five boroughs. We moved back to the area in February 2015 with our twins (Audrey and Aaron), who just turned 5 this year. Megan is the Communications Coordinator at West Side Montessori, where they’re in kindergarten.
What would you like people to know about you?
I’ve done a lot of different things in my career to-date, but I was telling Megan some time within the last year, that in public libraries, I’ve found a calling that I want to do for a long time to come. Getting the nod from our Trustees to step in as Director is a privilege that allows me and my family to put down some roots here, and that’s pretty exciting.