After more than sixth months of searching Denison now has a new library director.Greg Mitchell is taking over the position vacated when Kimberly Bowen took a job at the city’s parks and recreation department, leaving the library director position open.
Mitchell said he is now taking his time to learn the ropes before making any changes to the plans.
“I would like to hear what people think is important to learn what they would like to see,” Mitchell said. “I have found in the past you can get good ideas from different people. Sometimes you get them unexpectedly. That is a real power when you get ideas from people you get to know people from different groups. I believe very strongly in collaboration. It is very powerful when you get people with different backgrounds with different points of view who have ideas you can get real dynamics going. That is something I will be interested in finding. What groups we would be able to collaborate with.”
Before joining the Denison team, Mitchell was a director of libraries for Texas A&M Commerce. He got his start in libraries in Kentucky before coming to Texas. Before getting into libraries he worked in the corporate world. He said when he was in his 30s he decided that wasn’t for him.
“I am like a lot of people in libraries,” Mitchell said. “I had a different career at first. I changed in my 30s. I spent 10 years working for a fortune 500 company in product management. I realized I was a round peg in a square hole. I was interested in learning, I liked helping other people. I like education and teaching and I liked computers. Almost by accident I discovered a graduate program in Library and Information Sciences and began to look into it. The more I talked to people in the field I began to realize this was a natural fit for me. I made that change and never regretted it. I’ve met so many interesting people I have learned so many things. I enjoy helping other people to learn new things.”
Mitchell said he wants to continue the momentum the library has been experiencing with its activities. He said attendance has been increasing and he wants to keep working on finding ways to engage the community. Mitchell sees libraries as a community service organization.
“The library has been referred to as the people’s university,” Mitchell said. “Anybody can learn just about anything by going to the library. If they don’t know where to start there are people who are trained to guide them along. People can look around on Google, they may find it or not. But the library has good resources to help people find good information. In our modern times we have an awful lot of misinformation. Things that masquerade as good information and they aren’t. Many people don’t know how to tell the difference.”
Mitchell was about to retire when he noticed the job posting in Denison. Once he looked at the town, he knew it was a perfect fit and an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I am very happy to be here,” Mitchell said. “Denison has an identity of it’s own. That is a wonderful thing to find. It is a community with a history that stands on its own. I was very much attracted to the town.”
Feeling at home right away, Denison was very similar to the town Mitchell grew up in. That sense of community is important to him. Another aspect he enjoys is the friendly people.
In the coming future, Mitchell wants to put an emphasis on changing technology saying the library is always finding new ways to utilize technology. The chief issue facing libraries is funding and using technology in unique ways is a way to get people into the library to see what all it has to offer which is far more than books. He said he is also working on digitizing materials.
Mitchell was introduced to the City Council at its meeting Monday. Denison City Manager Jud Rex said the city was excited to have Mitchell on the team, and Mitchell has a great energy and is going to be a wonderful leader to the library. Jud said Mitchell has great character and confidence.
“I am happy here,” Mitchell said. “I like Denison. I hope the people who live here realize they’ve got a nice city here.”
What are some of the programs you would like to see the Denison Library do next? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.