GEORGE F. JOHNSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY DIRECTOR
I’m originally from this region – born and raised in Nichols, New York with my five brothers and sisters.
I went through the Tioga Central School District and attended Tioga Central High School before entering the workforce. I didn’t immediately go to college after high school. I needed a few years before choosing what school I wanted to attend. I was a waiter at Denny’s in Binghamton for a while, as well as a server at Olive Garden in Vestal for many years. The early experience working in food service – that customer service setting – has really helped me throughout my career, and especially in my current position as George F. Johnson Memorial Library Director.
Knowing how to work with people is essential to almost any position. Being able to work as a waiter, I was able to gain, and use, those skills quickly. I’m still utilizing those skills I learned ten years ago now.
After years in the workforce, I decided I wanted to go to college. I attended SUNY Oswego where I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies. When I finished in 2011, I found myself wondering what I should do next.
I’d always loved libraries so I decided to get my Master’s in Library Science. I graduated from SUNY Buffalo in 2013 and completed the MLS program in eleven months.
In my wife’s and my figuring out where to start my professional career, we realized there weren’t many full-time library positions available here, which prompted our moving from North Tonawanda, New York to Odessa, Texas where I accepted my first professional library position.
I worked as an Adult Services manager at the Ector County Public Library in Texas. Odessa was very expensive to live through – it’s right near where the Bush family originated from, in Midland, Texas. This specific area of Texas has a rich history of oil production. A one-bedroom apartment cost $1,600 a month there.
We knew we couldn’t live there forever. We spent seven months in Texas before moving back to New York – this time to Liverpool.
After four months working as a site manager for Polaris Library Systems, unfortunately, I got laid off. Shortly thereafter, I took a director position at the Red Jacket Community Library in Shortsville, New York.
I spent three years and three months there before accepting another position at the Walworth Seely Public Library in Walworth, New York.
I was only there for eight months though because I found out soon after I started that this position, at the GFJ Library, was opening up.
I was extremely excited when I heard the news, but it was a mix of emotions. I had just started my director position in Walworth. At the same time though, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take a job at the George F. Johnson Memorial Library.
I wouldn’t have come back here for just any library. Founded in 1915, the GFJ library is one of the original libraries in the Four County Library System.
It’s been a great honor to come back and work at this library that has deep roots in this community and is such a prestigious library in our region. Other libraries don’t have the resources, patronage or support we do.
The sense of community and public service that come with this job are the reasons I got into this field. Taking this job gave me the chance to serve the people of Broome County – and come full circle in my career. My passion for libraries started right here when I was a little kid.
More than those reasons though, I knew this library offered me and my family the opportunity to come home and be with our extended family.
It’s been quite a journey to get here, but I believe it was fate for me to end up back in Broome County. I’m very blessed, and privileged, to be back.
There are opportunities for everybody here and it doesn’t matter what your economic or socio-economic background is – you can thrive here.
I’ve lived in a lot of other places over the years. I’ve seen that this isn’t the case beyond this area – it’s about money, who you know and other factors. Here, I have a salary that allows me to live in a very nice area and allows my three children to go to great schools in Maine-Endwell, surrounded by family.
If the rest of my life is spent in Broome, working here, growing and being with my family, that’s really all I’m looking for.
The George F. Johnson Memorial Library is part of why #Broomeisgood.