Read as Kim DeNero-Ackroyd talks about her career as a Library Deputy Director. Find her at www.heightslibrary.org and on the Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.
What do you do for a living?
I’m the Deputy Director for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, which is a school district system. The library system has a large branch where Administration, IT, Security, Maintenance, Shipping and Collection Services reside. This is where I’m primarily located. We also have 3 neighborhood branches, 2 in Cleveland Heights and 1 in University Heights. Both communities are inner ring suburbs of Cleveland, OH.
How would you describe what you do?
I supervise the work of the 6 public service managers and 1 Special Projects Coordinator. The 6 managers are: the 3 neighborhood branch managers and 3 public services managers at our large branch, which are the managers for Adult Services, Circulation Services and Youth Services. Between them, they supervise the 108 public services staff members of the library system. I’m also responsible for organizing and managing the work done on our strategic plan.
What does your work entail?
Direct work with and supervision of my 7 reports. Since there is no Branch Manager for this location, I act in that role. However, I work with staff in every department because we are all dependent upon each other.
My job involves a lot of communication, planning and organization. Every month, I report to our Library Board of Trustees on 3 topics—our progress with our strategic plan, our monthly public service reports and our circulation and usage statistics.
I also work closely with the Director, who is my supervisor. I assist her in determining many of the library’s future plans and goals.
What’s a typical work week like?
Lots of formal & informal meetings! Because I am ultimately responsible for all public services, I am involved in coordinating programming, helping supervisors with staffing issues, including hiring and assist with collection services issues. I also need to be aware that I have to get out of my office, walk around and see what’s happening on a daily basis. This includes visits to our neighborhood branches, which I try to visit once a month at least. I try to spend an hour a week on the floor assisting customers with self checkout and I’m responsible for answering whatever customer complaints (& compliments!) that come my way. I also can’t underestimate the time that I spend communicating with all staff, whether they report to me or not.
How did you get started?
I’m assuming that you mean “how did I get started in my career?” In August of 1992, I started as a part time paraprofessional at a suburban Columbus library in the A/V dept. Then in October of that year, I took a second part time job at another suburban Columbus (OH) library in the children’s dept. I held both of those jobs until I left Columbus to get my Master’s of Library & Information Science from the University of Texas in Austin in January of 1995.
In total, I’ve held 3 paraprofessional jobs and the following MLIS public library professional jobs: Adult Services Librarian, Circulation Manager, Branch Manager (which I’ve done in 2 different library systems) and now Deputy Director. I’ve also held 2 professional jobs outside of public libraries. One job was a Legal Librarian in a law firm and the other was as an Accountant Manager for a major library vendor. Both of these experiences were also very valuable.
What do you like about what you do?
In a nutshell, working with staff in all departments to shape the course of the library’s present and future. I also like that no 2 days are the same and I could be immersed in several different projects over the course of any given week. I also really love working in the community in which I’ve lived for 11 ½ years. It gives me extra motivation to do the best possible job.
What do you dislike?
I am responsible for most of the evictions in the library system. An eviction is issued when a customer has flagrantly violated our Code of Conduct and we’ve decided that they will not be allowed into our libraries for a certain time period (the norm is six months, but it can vary). I dislike this duty because it’s never pleasant to have to reach the conclusion that someone will be denied service from us. Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
My salary is paid by the library. Our funding is primarily from local tax sources, with about a quarter coming from the Ohio Public Library Fund.
How much money do Library Deputy Directors make?
I didn’t know this off the top of my head, so, because I’m still a librarian, I did a bit of research. In 2009, a Public Library Association survey completed by 1250 respondents reported that the mean salary for Deputy Directors was $76,750. Of course, many variables go into this, such as library size, location (rural, suburban or urban) and the person’s longevity in that position.
How much money did/do you make starting out?
If you mean back in 1992 when I started my library career, I will admit that I honestly don’t remember. However, that same study that I just mentioned reported that a beginning librarian’s salary in 2009 was $46,175 (1387 respondents—that’s a low number of respondents for that job, in my opinion). Here at our library, the salary range would start at $38,000.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
When I started as a paraprofessional, I had my Bachelor’s already. Most paraprofessional reference positions require that. Librarians, Branch Managers, Deputy Directors & Directors need to have an MLS or MLIS.
What is most challenging about what you do?
- Dealing with the budgetary issues that are always with us.
- Maintaining our relevancy by staying on top of customer needs and wants.
- Clearly communicating our mission to the community and staff.
What is most rewarding?
- Hearing about how our library has made someone happy, whether it be because of a staff member, a program, materials or just being the place they want to be.
- Finding solutions to problem situations.
- Mentoring and encouraging staff to grow.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
- Get as varied of an experience as possible in whatever position that you have.
- Be willing to take on extra duties.
- Also, know that you must truly genuinely like serving people. Because, I’m going to be honest, sometimes it’s extremely tough to maintain a professional (but still approachable!) demeanor when someone is yelling in your face that they pay your salary with their taxes and you must (take that $1 fine off their card/stop telling them that they need to be quieter/get them a computer to use now)—take your pick of these phrases. If you take these kinds of things personally, then being a public librarian is not for you. There’s nothing wrong with that & there are plenty of other career paths for librarians.
How much time off do you get/take?
I get about 3 ½ weeks of vacation a year, I believe. We also are closed for 7 paid holidays and 2 personal days during the year.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
There are 2 that I must list.
#1—That librarians are able to read books all day. (If only!)
#2—That all information is online, free and true.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
My goal is to always be providing the services, programs & classes that our library customers want and need in a welcoming atmosphere. A lot of our strategic plan is based around that simple concept.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
I’ve spent 20 years in libraries and I’ve never been bored. The work is always worth it because I love what I do and it truly is a calling.