In the 10 years before I became Director of Alamance County Public Libraries, I worked as Head of Technical Services in another library. During that time, I became active in the Public Library Section of the North Carolina Library Association. It was during my tenure as Chair of this committee that I met a remarkable young man named Jason Rogers. I was immediately drawn to his passion for public libraries and his commitment to public service. We worked together for several years, while we both served on this committee. When I left, he continued to put together amazing programs and innovative workshops for librarians and library staff across our state. Jason was such a joy to work with that I’ve been trying to hire him away from other libraries and get him on the staff of Alamance County Public Libraries. I have at last succeeded and would like to introduce our new Associate Director of Community Relations – Jason Rogers – to you. I think you will find him a valuable addition to an already talented library staff and I am looking forward to the many innovative and thoughtful ideas he already has in order to better serve our communities. I’ll let him tell you about himself…
Thank you for that kind introduction MJ, I am humbled and appreciative of all the kind words. I am thrilled to be here in Alamance County as the Associate Director for Community Relations. For many years I have worked in a variety of roles to reach this point in my career and now I get to spend time in the community, working with folks just like you, to make this the best community, best county, best library system possible. I am originally from Eastern North Carolina in a very small, rural, farming community where both of my parents were teachers and valued the importance of literacy skills and a well-rounded education. My Father was the only history teacher and my Mother was the only librarian at my high school. It was a very small town; yet, every week we went to the closest city where I had piano lessons, took gymnastics, karate, played little league football, went to the library, and we bought our groceries. As the saying goes, “From humble beginnings….”
From there I attended the North Carolina School of the Arts (it wasn’t a University yet) in Winston-Salem, for my senior year of high school and all four years of undergraduate. I proceeded to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio where I had a full scholarship and worked toward my double masters in Music Performance on French Horn and Music History. I came back to North Carolina looking for jobs because this was home – always has been, always will be. I struggled to find a job and ended up going back to school for my Masters in Library and Information Studies at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. I finally found my calling. I was able to combine my thirst for knowledge and my quest for helping people in a career that could carry me through this grand journey we call life.
I accepted my first job at the Neuse Regional Public Libraries in Kinston, NC as a Reference and Young Adult Librarian. I was in Kinston for about a year and a half, then it was time to move to a larger system that offered greater opportunities and training. I accepted a job at the Cameron Village Regional Library with the Wake County Public Libraries as a Reference and Research Librarian. I was at Cameron Village for about four and a half years teaching, sharing, and learning. It was a great job in a wonderful location with a staff that was amazing.
Though challenging, I was ready for a new and exciting opportunity and applied to become Branch Manager at the Holly Springs Community Library in Holly Springs, NC still with the Wake County Public Libraries. Holly Springs is a great bedroom community southwest of Raleigh. The community, like Alamance County, was so warm and welcoming. I felt right at home and thought I could really be happy here for a long time, but I only stayed for three and a half years with a staff that allowed me to grow right along with them. Then a past employee from the Cameron Village Library with whom I had mentored even after he left to become a Branch Manager at the Fort Washington Branch Library and asked me if I would consider moving. The offer to move was to New York City! NYC was one of those places that I loved to visit but never had a desire to live. The New York Public Library offered me a position that I just could not turn down so I packed up all of my stuff, quit my job, and moved to the Big Apple! I managed the Countee Cullen Public Library in Central Harlem for a little over a year. I had a great time in the city that never sleeps. Due to family reasons it was best to move back to NC. My family simply needed some attention, and I realized that while I loved NYC, North Carolina was home. My heart kept telling me that I needed to come back.
Once I was back in the state I heard that MJ Wilkerson, the Library Director at Alamance County Public Libraries, was looking for an Associate Director. I thought, “Well, it wouldn’t hurt to throw my name in the hat”. I have wanted to work with MJ since my days with the North Carolina Library Association. I knew that the job would be even more rewarding to also work with my very first library mentor, the Associate Director of Technical Services, Martha Sink. It was a dream come true for me. So, I did! The rest is history. I moved from little old New York to the big town of Mebane in early January 2017 and started with the Libraries on January 11th. I look forward to meeting each of you as I learn about the county, the communities, and the individuals that make up those communities. I am happy to be here and I am ready to get started working to make ACPL the best library system in the state.
Jason M. Rogers