Friday, April 21, 2017

Employee Spotlight - Shawn McConnell

Shawn is our Director here at the Newark Public Library. He's the head honcho, and he always makes sure to take care of all the behind the scenes running of the library, as well as occasionally helping out on desk. Additionally, this entire series of employee spotlights was his idea, so let's see what answers he had to the questions.

Q: How long have you worked at Newark Library?

A: Three years.

Q: What made you interested in working at the library?

A: When the Director position became available at Newark, the library had just started planning renovations. I could see that exciting changes were already in the works. I wanted to work at a library that embraced change. Additionally, I heard many good things about this library and its staff - all of which were true. I wanted to work in a community that cared deeply for its library. and with a staff that was dedicated to the library and its patrons. I found all of the above at Newark Public Library.

Q: Tell me one interesting or unusual fact about yourself.

A: My wife and I scuba-dived in Thailand - one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Q: What do you like to do when you're not working?

A: I like to spend time with my family - my wife, two-year-old son, and six-month-old girl. Hearing my kids laugh is the best thing in the world right now.

Q: What would you do if you didn't work at the library?

A: I would work for a non-profit or educational institution. I get job satisfaction only out of work that directly helps the communities I live in.

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: That's a tough one. It's a toss-up between "The Great Gatsby" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", which makes sense since the former greatly influenced the latter. They both comment on the American Dream.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at the library?

A: I love the fact that the library is one of the few public places left in our communities. Everyone can come in and stay all day if they want to. It's a place to slow down and gather with other community members to discuss books, movies, games, and organize activities. We are the public water cooler, and we serve the rich, poor, old, young - everyone. There's a great diversity of people who bring with them all types of opinions, questions, and needs.

Q: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: The first response to this question that I can remember making is stunt man. Coincidentally, "The Fall Guy" was a popular show on television at this time.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

A: Renovating the library was a long, challenging process that took over two years to complete. There were times we closed sections of the library because we boxed all our books. Fortunately, the staff worked hard and provided great customer service no matter what was going on. I think getting through that unscathed and now with a much better library was an extraordinary achievement. I also have to give a lot of credit to the directors, board members, and staff before me who planned the renovations.

Q: What fictional character best represents you?

A: Growing up, I felt most connected to Kevin Arnold from "The Wonder Years". This is partly because we were always in the same grade as the series originally ran. However, I was also a bit geeky like him and had very similar tastes and thought processes. And I had a crush on Winnie Cooper. As an adult, I feel most connected to Arthur Dent from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Like him, I'm often randomly jettisoned to new parts of the universe where I find unexpected surprises. And next year I'll be 42.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

A: New Zealand.

Q: Favorite song at the moment/favorite band?

A: My answer to this question would depend on the day you asked. Today I'll say "Carousel" from Iron & Wine is my favorite song, and Radiohead is my favorite band.

Q: Pet peeves?

A: People who do not use their turn signals. It takes a minimal amount of effort and makes driving a lot safer.

Q: One thing you couldn't live without?

A: Public spaces.

Q: If you were a superhero, what would your power be?

A: Patience.

Q: Who would play you in a movie?

A: I would like Ed Norton to play me.

Q: What's on your bucket list?

A: I would like to travel across the U.S. by train.

Q: What is an ability you wish you had?

A: I wish I could speed read.

Q: Favorite quote?

A: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world" - Gandhi.