Moving and Shaking Together

Library Journal  recently named me one of its Movers & Shakers for 2012, specifically recognizing me as a “tech leader” for my work with digital media labs at both Skokie Public Library and Arlington Heights Memorial Library. I’m honored to be part of a group that includes friends like Leah White and Nate Hill, but I’m also a bit embarrassed by the attention because I’ve always felt that one of the best things about working in libraries is that everything is accomplished through collaboration with others. Nothing ever gets done because of just one person.

I can name a whole bunch of people who deserve their own recognition for doing amazing work and influenced me in my short career so far. In fact, at the risk of coming across as all mushy, I think I’ll do that now!

While I was a grad student just trying to get my career kick-started in the right direction, Eva Davis (now director of Canton Public Library, MI) gave me my first professional work experience in public libraries at Ann Arbor District Library. Eva served as a mentor and supporter to me back then and continues to do so now. Other people at Ann Arbor who I respect and made a difference to me professionally (whether they realize it or not!) include Amy Cantu, Sherlonya Turner, Eli Neiburger, and the director, Josie Parker.

In my first full-time library job at Thousand Oaks Library (CA), my supervisor and adult services manager, Sue Pelman, provided me with an environment in which new ideas were encouraged. I also learned so much from colleagues like Margaret Douglas and Mohsen Rahnamaie.

When I moved back to the Chicago area and took a job at Skokie Public Library, I worked for another great boss (see a pattern here?) in Deborah Grodinsky, head of adult services. Deborah also gave me room to explore new ideas and interests, and taught me a lot about being a leader and supervisor. I also worked with a visionary director in Carolyn Anthony, who was actually the one who came up with the initial idea to create a digital media lab and paved the way for that entire project to become a reality! Of course, I need to mention people like Toby Greenwalt (started at Skokie on the same day and frequent collaborator on projects then and now) and Mick Jacobsen (countless ideas tossed back and forth while we carpooled to work and back, plus taking the Skokie DML to the next level), both of whom demonstrated on a daily basis how to be an  innovator and leader. People like Jennifer Phillips-Bacher, Ruth Sinker, Bruce Brigell, Adam Wisniewski, Christie Robinson, the entire IT staff…I can go on and on here…also deserved to be mentioned.

Now at Arlington Heights, I continue my lucky streak of working with smart, dedicated people who know libraries inside and out. My director, Paula Moore, and assistant director, Brian Shepard, showed me very early on that our library was willing to do whatever was necessary to innovate and remain relevant to our community. Our pilot digital Studio is just a small sampling of what’s to come and I can’t wait to be a part of it all! Working with colleagues from all over the library, including IT, Communications and Marketing, Programs, Customer Services, and, of course, Digital Services, make my days go by quickly because we’re so ambitious and excited about what we’re doing.

I haven’t even mentioned all the people I’ve met at conferences, on Twitter, at local networking groups and elsewhere who inspire me with the work they do for libraries and our communities. People like Ryann Uden, Bobbi Newman, Anne Slaughter, Mike Gershbein (yes, you too, Mike!), and countless others. Finally, I can’t forget mentioning the members of the RLA CE committee (mentioned in the LJ article). So many meetings packed with ideas about the state of libraries and what librarians need to learn more about in order to do their jobs!

I’m leaving out a lot of people, and I think the orchestra is about to play me off the stage, but if you’ve made it this far on this post, I’m sure you get the idea that I’ve been very fortunate to come across some incredible people since I decided to become a librarian back in 2004. Proof that this field is all about collaboration and sharing ideas!


  1. What a wonderful post Richard! It is true that no one gets where they are alone. It’s also true that you are most deserving of this recognition. I know for you it is only the beginning and I look forward to seeing all your efforts in the coming years! Congratulations again!


  2. I miss those rides, come back to Skokie! I keep making mistakes because you are not around to talk me out of hare brained ideas!


  3. If I remember correctly, you started working at Skokie right around the time when I broke my leg and was out for 6 weeks. We couldn’t have pulled off the 10 Things without you! Congrats on your moving and shaking 🙂


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