I wanted to share a short message of introduction to let you know how excited I am to be joining the Jacksonville Public Library team. As you can imagine, my wife Carla and I have been pretty busy over the past month celebrating the holidays with family and prepping for our new life in North Florida. We found a place to live on the Southside, got our Florida driver’s licenses and car tags, and most importantly, went to our new home branch, Southeast Regional, to register for library cards. We are officially Jaxsons (or Jacksonvillians, if you prefer)!
While I had the opportunity to meet a number for folks during my previous trips to the city, I recognize there are many more I did not. I know that anytime a new person is brought into an organization, there is a mix of curiosity, anxiety and even excitement. To try to help give you a sneak preview of me, following are some additional bullets to give you a little better sense of who I am and what’s important to me:
- I really love coming to work. I love thinking about it, doing it, and the feeling of winning that comes from working together people to achieve.
- I tend to talk in terms of “we” and “us” when I talk about the library and the work we do. It’s not me or the leadership team — it’s us.
- I ask a lot of questions. It’s how I learn best and it helps me understand how people think and work. I also like it when others ask me questions or offer ideas.
- I believe in letting people do their jobs, which means that I don’t micromanage activities, but I do track results.
- I don’t have a formula for library success, but I do appreciate the use of best practices since they allow us to focus our creativity where it can make the most difference.
- I believe that successful communities need libraries and successful libraries need people who care about the community. Our people are our community’s competitive advantage.
In addition to those work-related items, I thought you might like to know these little tidbits about me as a whole person:
- I performed in community theater as a kid (and have a secret desire to return to it someday!).
- I lived as an exchange student in Finland for a year, and it changed my life.
- I worked at the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown, New York, and am still a huge baseball fan.
- I read a lot of nonfiction, but my favorite fiction authors include Robert Crais, John D. McDonald, Robert B. Palmer, Anne Tyler, Randy Wayne White and William Faulkner. My favorite books include Lost Horizon, Einstein’s Dreams, The Accidental Birds of North Carolina, and Shadow Country.
- Thanks to traffic and the ease of streaming, I listen to audiobooks more often than I actually read these days.
- I enjoy museums (art, science, history, etc.) and live music (all kinds) especially with food. There’s something beautiful about feeding your mind while feeding your belly!
- I love sailing—rivers, lakes or oceans, though my sense of direction (which is bad) keeps me in sight of land always.
- And last, but certainly not least, Carla and I have a grown daughter who is a kindergarten teacher and lives in Kansas with her husband and our two granddaughters. While we will miss them, we’re already planning their first beach and Magic Kingdom experiences.
In closing, let me just say that I’ll be spending a chunk of my first few months getting to know the people who work for, and on behalf of the organization—our staff, Board, Friends, Foundation, and, of course, our patrons. I will also be investing time to get to know our partner agencies and organizations while developing relationships with our elected officials. We’re going to have a lot of fun and do some good things for Jacksonville and the people who make it a great place to live!
Jacksonville Public Library