Former Paonia Library manager and longtime librarian Jane Kelso retired in April 2018. A dedicated search for her replacement began in February and library staff are pleased to welcome Jay Mann to the position and to the community.
"We are thrilled that we were able to recruit Jay for the Paonia manager position," says LaDonna Gunn, assistant district director of Delta County Libraries. "Jay brings a wealth of knowledge and skill in library services to the role, including four years of experience directing small, rural libraries."
Before accepting the Paonia position, Mann was director of the Nederland Community Library District for three years. Prior to that, he served as assistant director of Dolores Public Library and adult services librarian at Albuquerque Bernalillo Public Library.
Mann carries a bachelor's degree in ecology and a master's degree in library and information science. Mann jokes about what led him from field work to pursue a MLIS at the University of Washington. "I fell in love with Colorado during a summer studying butterflies outside Lake City," he says. "And working with plants and animals for several years after that was great. But conversations with butterflies are one-sided. I missed working with people.
"I was originally drawn to libraries because of their service aspect and their democratic nature," Mann explains. "Libraries are one of the only places that provide equal service to whoever walks through the door, regardless of their background. Over time, I have seen how libraries can help not just individuals, but entire communities."
Mann will have a great opportunity to tap into his desire to serve people and to experience the outdoor world with his recent move to Delta County. "I am someone who is passionate about not only libraries, but also communities and the natural world," Mann states. "I am looking forward to getting to know the people and history of Paonia, as well as across the county, and I am giddy at all the possibilities for outdoor experiences."
Mann's first day was Tuesday, May 1, and he has already undergone a variety of training in district policies, procedures and systems, as well as familiarizing himself with the Paonia Library and staff.
"We are very encouraged by the way that Jay is stepping into his role as manager," Gunn states. "He knows libraries, he is an experienced leader, and he is community-minded. We want to warmly welcome him to Paonia Library, the library district, and Delta County."
Library patrons and community members are encouraged to stop by the Paonia Library in the coming weeks to introduce themselves to Mann and welcome him to the area.