An Interview with John Sexton
John Sexton has recently been appointed the director of the Greenburgh Public Library in Elmsford, NY. NYLA had the opportunity to sit down with John and ask him a few questions.
Tell us a little about your background in libraries?
I was a Teen Librarian for 15 years in Ashland, Oregon before coming to NY as Teen Services Consultant for the 38 libraries of the Westchester Library System.
How is library service different between New York and Oregon?
Public Library service is no really no different, since we are all focused on providing our communities with spaces, resources and opportunities for personal growth and learning. Since I arrived in NY in 2007, the library landscape has obviously changed, and I think librarians have learned to adapt and retool in order to create library service that is more appreciated and relevant than ever. We are no longer defined by what we have in our buildings, but for what we do in and for our communities.
What about Oregon Libraries would you like to see in New York?
The scale of things is so different between Oregon and NY that it isn't really fair to compare. I mean, I would often drive 150 miles to go to a meeting of Teen Services Librarians in Oregon, which is impossible to imagine here - and it was always worth it! If there was one thing I could take from Oregon, it would be our Library Association's full-time professional lobbyist. She worked wonders with the state legislature ensuring grants and funds for libraries and reading initiatives.
You have long been involved with services for teens?
My inspiration to become a librarian was a Young Adult librarian who impacted the lives of teens every day - she literally changed lives before my eyes. So, I have been involved with teens from the beginning of my career and use that experience as the basis for almost all of my customer service strategies and much of my planning and staffing ideas. Teen Services is the best training for library managers and administrators!
What are your plans and dreams for Greenburgh?
We are doing great work here creating new services and programs and becoming recognized as the cultural hub of our community, a resource unlike any other. It is my work to continue to build on our successes and expand our exposure to residents who have yet to discover what a 21st Century library has for them.