New director of Towanda Public Library is hired
TOWANDA - When Jesse Johnson graduated from Towanda High School in 2008, he was working as an aide at the Towanda Public Library two afternoons a week as well as on weekends.
Five years later, Johnson is back working at the library, this time as the library's new full-time director.
"I've always loved libraries," Johnson said, explaining why he applied for the director's job. "I think they are really beneficial to the communities they serve."
Johnson began working as the library's director in May, said Ruth Tonachel, the library's treasurer.
"I really enjoy it," Johnson said of his nearly two months as head of the library. "I have a great staff and support from June Houghtaling (the system administrator of the system of public libraries in Bradford County)."
Prior to becoming the library's director, Johnson earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he managed the journalism department's student magazine during his senior year.
"I think he (Johnson) is very bright and very capable," Tonachel said. "I'm elated that he's taken the job."
Johnson had worked as an aide at the Towanda Public Library from 2006 to 2008.
"He (Johnson) was one of the best library aides who ever worked in the library," Tonachel said. "He was responsible and energetic and he cared about the job. He has a strong interest in library work as a career, and he exhibited that from the time he was in high school. I think he's totally capable of doing the job."
Johnson said that, as requirement for taking the job as library director, the trustees are requiring that he take nine credits' worth of library science courses within the next year. He said that will probably amount to taking three courses.
Even though taking the courses is a requirement, "I want to take them" anyway, in order to have a better understanding of the job, he said.
Johnson said he will take the courses online.
"We (the library's board of trustees) felt that he (Johnson) would do a very good job of providing what is needed at the library at this time," said Linda Mackie, a member of the library's board of trustees.
Johnson was one of four applicants for the director position, Mackie said. All four were interviewed, she said.
Johnson will earn a salary of approximately $23,000. He will not receive benefits, Tonachel said.
"We (the board of trustees) felt that even though he is young and just out of school, he could bring a new perspective" to the library, Mackie said.
Mackie explained that the trustees felt that Johnson would be able to relate to younger people.
Johnson is also willing to ask questions to find out what he needs to know for his new job, Mackie said.
"We were very pleased with his enthusiasm and his desire to start from scratch and move forward," Mackie said.
Johnson grew up in Standing Stone Township.
While there is a learning curve to the job, "I think (Johnson) is totally equipped and capable of learning what he needs to and getting (the job) done, Tonachel said.
Johnson replaces Houghtaling, who in February resigned as the Towanda Public Library director to take the system administrator position. Houghtaling had been the director of the Towanda Public Library for 10 years.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.