Meet Mattapoisett Library’s new Executive Director, Jennifer Jones
Stepping into the role of library director during a pandemic is no easy feat, but Mattapoisett Library’s new Executive Director Jennifer Jones hopes to adjust quickly, and may even bring her own flair — such as adding a crafts database and more virtual programming — to the job.
Jones has been working her way into the new role with the help of outgoing director Susan Pizzolato since she was hired on June 8.
Previously, Jones worked at Plymouth Library for 13 years, starting as a library associate in the children’s room and working as a Manomet branch librarian before becoming assistant director. She holds a Masters of Library Information Science degree.
Sippican Week spoke with Jones about her road to becoming an executive director, starting the job during covid, and what she hopes to bring to Mattapoisett.
SW: What made you want to become a librarian?
JJ: I started working in libraries after working in a preschool job for a few years after college. I started out in Plymouth as a library associate in the children's room, but then I decided that I really enjoyed the work and wanted to earn the degree so I could get higher positions in the libraries. So I went to Simmons University while I was working full time.
SW: What made you want to switch over from working in a preschool to working in a library?
JJ: It was an interest in the career and having had enough working in preschools. It’s very taxing work, and I appreciate all the work that preschool teachers do very much, but I just decided that I wanted to further my career in a different direction. There was also a lot of talk in the library world and articles written at this time around 2004 about how there would be a shortage of librarians in the future.
SW: What drew you to Mattapoisett?
JJ: I was looking for a directorship in a smaller library. Plymouth is a pretty big town, it has about 60,000+ residents. It was a huge staff, which I really enjoyed in Plymouth, but I really loved working as the Manomet branch librarian. It's a small beach community and the library feels more quaint and charming, kind of like a small town library and I really enjoyed that. When I was thinking about moving up, I just decided I wanted to explore directorship in a small town.
SW: What’s it been like starting the job during a pandemic?
JJ: It’s been odd trying to navigate changing a job during what is essentially a crisis. There's a lot of anxiety in terms of what’s going to happen: If we’ll see another resurgence, when will we reopen to the public, how the public will be when they come in, and how am I going to have the building and disinfect if anybody comes in and is sick. There’s so much for me to think about now that in a normal circumstance I wouldn’t have to think about.
SW: What’s it been like working with the outgoing Executive Director Susan Pizzolato over the past few months?
JJ: It's been great! I wish we had a little more time to work together. Susan’s been very gracious to offer to answer any questions I have when she’s done, so I’ve been grateful for that. And it's been trying to absorb everything she’s been telling me. She's been super helpful and very patient and explains things very well, so it's been great working with her.
SW: What kind of ideas do you want to introduce for the library?
JJ: There's a couple of resources that I might like to consider purchasing. We had Creativebug in Plymouth, which was a database for crafts. I think people in Mattapoisett would really enjoy it. Bringing in different virtual programming is a possibility too. I would also love to reach out to some local organizations just to get to know the area, and I really want to hear from the community on what they’re looking for from the library during this time.
SW: What do you like the most about being a librarian?
JJ: Being able to provide people with good, quality information. I think it’s really important to make sure that people have access to the right information. I'm big on the equity of access and making sure that everybody can find facts and information that they need for their daily lives.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.