Rogers leads Jacksonville’s Main Library Downtown and 20 branch locations as well as the website.
Tim Rogers became director of the Jacksonville Public Library in January, succeeding Barbara Gubbin, who retired June 30. With more than 15 years of experience in executive library positions across the country, Rogers leads Jacksonville’s Main Library Downtown and 20 branch locations as well as the website.
My job is to work with the city leadership and with the library board and articulate a vision that our staff can get behind and go out and make the library the community learning space.
The system is the entirety of Duval County. We have close to 500 people who serve Jacksonville with library services. We have about 2 million items in the collection. We’ve seen in the last three years, every year, 25 percent or more increases in the usage of our digital material and that is going to continue.
We are also responsible for providing learning programs for people of all ages. We try to focus on kids and teens, but we also have a special interest to serve the adults of the community for their ongoing learning needs. We still need to learn every day.
We’re already the winner of the 2017 Library of the Year in Florida (by the Florida Library Association), and of course I had nothing to do with that. It’s the entire legacy of what the directors and staff before brought us. It’s our job now to take it to the next level.
A lot of times when cities talk about economic development, they’re talking about bringing in new industries. When we do that, it’s making a difference in the lives of individuals. A lot of what we do, and should do, is help folks who are unemployed or underemployed get the skills they need so they can get the job or get the promotion that will help them and their family and ultimately help the entire community. I think the library has a strong role in economic development. It’s just very personal economic development.
If there’s anyone out there who has never been to the library, and especially those who might think, ‘Well, the library, that’s pretty passé. In the 21st century we don’t need that,’ I would invite them to come in and show them how the library is making the difference for individuals.
I’m a huge history buff. The way I like to learn history is through stories. Personal stories are the best, when you’re talking to an individual and hearing about how they grew up here, or how their grandparents grew up here or how the city was built.
I read mostly nonfiction. I like business and management material. I’m a fairly big sports fan. If we could bring the “play” into work a little bit more every day, I think our players – or our staffs – would have a lot more fun. I think they would understand the game we’re playing a lot better. Reading about sports, you recognize that the game of any sport leads off with people understanding the rules of the game, then understanding what they’re trying to do – which is to score points, usually more than the other team, and that’s what the win looks like.
My favorite book of all time is “Lost Horizon.” It was written by James Hilton in 1933. It’s the book where the term Shangri-La was first coined. I was in eighth or ninth grade. We were assigned this book to read and the way the English teacher taught the book and asked questions about what we understood changed the way I thought about reading. Before that, reading was something I had to do. After that, I would also read for the poetry of the language.