by Max Marbut
After 20 years working at the Houston Public Library, including 10 years as its director, Barbara Gubbin came to Jacksonville to assume the duties of director for the Main Library and 20 branch libraries.
She was born and raised in India and educated in the United Kingdom. Her first job at a library was a world away – literally – from what she does now.
Gubbin said her first job at a library was in England and it wasn’t even a public library.
“I was the only employee at a research library that specialized in women’s studies. It had a wonderful collection that went back to when British women were lobbying to get the vote in the first part of the 20th century,” she said.
“It was way before the Internet and I would get phone calls from researchers all over the world. I would make notes then put the telephone down and run up the stairs to find the item they wanted and then run back to the phone.”
Her first job at a public library was in San Antonio, Texas at a library so small it didn’t have a break room.
Gubbin now supervises 21 libraries that offer a myriad of high-tech services and requires a 70-member full-time staff at the Main Library alone. System-wide, there are more than 400 full-time staff members.
“It’s quite a jump, for sure,” said Gubbin.
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