Librarian Movers and Shakers: Interview Series

Posted: March 29, 2011 in Movers and Shakers, Professional News, Public Libraries, Uncategorized

For the past decade Library Journal has been honoring librarians who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty, singling them out via the “Movers and Shakers Award” for their innovation, service and ways they’ve otherwise raised the profile of quality library service.

This post is the first in a series of interviews I conducted with the 2011 Mover & Shaker winners. Here’s to the librarians who’ve brought so much innovation to the field!

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Name:  Anthony Molaro

Library name:  Messenger Public Library, Aurora, IL

Library type (public, academic, etc.):  Public

Address:  113 Oak Street, North Aurora, IL 60542

Website:  http://informationactivist.com/

Why he was chosen for this honor:

Information Activist

Anthony Molaro is a true “information activist.” Whether he’s blogging as the Information Activist Librarian, engaged as a public speaker, or gathering like-minded people to support a worthy cause, he is driven by “the poor understanding of the role of libraries in a democratic society.” As a regular contributor to the Libraries and Transliteracy blog, Molaro is part of a team that is committed to removing barriers between people and information. They recognize the importance of library support for communicating across a range of platforms, from reading and hand writing to signing and social networking. But Molaro does more than write. He cofounded Chicago Deskset, a local offshoot of the New York City—based group of librarians, bibliophiles, and information professionals who “thrive through social events and give something back to our community.” A supporter of libraries in their essential form, he believes that attacks on libraries, intellectual freedom, and human rights can be countered with “the very stories contained within our walls.” Those stories illustrate a critical service in action. “There is no greater reward in the world than knowing that our profession saves lives,” he says. “Whether it is a lonely senior or a kid trying to find [his] way in this world, their sanctuary is the public library.”

1).        Do you hold an MLS degree? From which school?

            MBA Elmhurst College

            MLIS Dominican University

            PhD Anticipated Dominican University

2).        If you hold an MLS, what was your undergraduate field of study? Have you applied that degree in your library career?

            BA History.  History, like LIS, is an all encompassing field.  Much of what I have learned pursuing that degree has been relevant in my current position.

3).        Is there anything unique about the history and/or architecture of your library?

            My library is known for its porches and fireplace.

4).        What stands out about your library? What special features or services does it offer?

            Messenger Public Library stands out because of the level of service it offers.  Since I started, we have been the first in the area to lend out eReaders, create a video game collection, lend out comic books, dump RFID, and create a Blu-ray collection.  We are on the cutting edge but have managed to avoid the bleeding edge.

5).        How many patrons does your library serve?

            Our geographic boundary is 15,848.  However we are often the library of use for many patrons in both Aurora (who does not have a branch anywhere near so many of their patrons) and Sugar Grove (the library is closed on Sunday and Monday and only open half days for Friday and Saturday).

6).        What is the demographic in your area?

            About 80% white, 10% Latino, 5% African-American

7).        What are your favorite reading genres? Any favorite books or authors you’ve read recently?

            As a PhD Candidate, most of my reading is related to LIS theory and research theory.  On my free time I tend to read nonfiction.

8).        What are your thoughts on the eBook vs. book debate? Will books as we know them ever be completely usurped by eBooks?

Usurped is a tricky word.  If by that do you mean that eBooks will have a larger market share than print books, well yes I do think that will happen much sooner than we had thought.  For libraries, the important question is whether we will be forced out of the eBook race.  If publishers and retailers continue to create services, products and terms that leave libraries out, well then we are faced with forced obsolesces. 

9).        Have your patrons been receptive to eBooks?

            Yes, our patrons have used eBook services that we have offered, and they turn to us for recommendations on eReader advice.  Our local Barnes & Nobles pushes Overdrive and libraries pretty hard.  I’m not sure if this is universal for B&N or if it’s just the one by us, but it has been great.

10).      Finally, what concerns – if any – do you have about the future of libraries?

            I am worried that we don’t see the writing on the wall.  I believe that libraries need to shift their focus from content consumption to content creation.  YouMedia is the future of libraries.  Those that don’t see that will follow what the systems are experiencing in the state. 

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As an “expert” in Technology, Technological Exploration, Technical Services, Management & Leadership Issues, Strategic Planning, Social Media, Information Activism, Social Justice, and all around coolness, I am available to speak to your library group.  You may contact me at anthony.molaro@gmail.com.

Upcoming Presentations:

April 8, 2011: Schaumburg, IL, “eBooks: Dreams, Realities & Nightmares”, LACONI Technology Section.

September, 2011, Chicago, IL, “Grassroots Organizing: How Librarians are Getting Stuff Done”, Illinois Library Association 2011 Annual Conference with Leah White and Adam Girard.

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