A couple months into his tenure as the new head librarian at the College-Rolando Library, Trevor Jones remains thankful that he found a job that allows him to serve his neighbors. Previously, Jones worked at Scripps Miramar Ranch for six years that involved a grueling hour-long commute from his home in La Mesa near Rolando Village.
When the position for a new head librarian at College-Rolando Library opened, he jumped at the opportunity.
“I am super excited to be here and happy to be the professional neighborhood librarian for everyone as well as having like a personal stake in how the place is run and how people respond to it. It definitely ups the stakes I feel as a librarian, to have both roles: citizen as well as an employee happy to meet my neighbors,” Jones said. “I want to be there for my neighbors and be responsive to them as a public service.”
Since coming to College-Rolando, Jones has created a routine despite the disruption in service due to COVID-19. He checks in with staff to make sure everyone is present, no one has symptoms and has done a temperature check. From 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5:30 p.m. patrons who put their books on hold are allowed to come in for pickup and people can also use the computers. Browsing the shelves is still not permitted.
Jones explained that he comes into work each day with a to-do list and tries to get the heavy administrative tasks done before lunch so he has time to interact with patrons without always being in a rush.
Like many organizations, San Diego Public Libraries have made a concerted effort to expand its digital offerings during the pandemic. On College-Rolando Library’s Facebook page, the staff has weekly programming for children and adults. Jones hosts “Read More! With Trevor” in which he talks about the books he is reading and encourages others to share what they are reading. For instance, this week he is reading “Desert Oracle” by Ken Layne, a book described as a love letter to the Mojave Desert. Jones, who said he loves memoirs, is also reading “Yellow House” by Sarah M. Broom.
Jones said that now that production is in place, these virtual events will extend even when library services return to normal.
Advocating for literacy is one of the reasons Jones was drawn to this career path. His father pushed reading on him as a kid and he constantly went to the library. In retrospect, he said being a librarian serving families is a way to pay it forward.
“Building reading as a habit is so important to being a citizen in our country, being an informed person, being someone who can have rational public discussions. I think we're definitely seeing now in society just how important it is for people to be educated, well read. They know how to cite sources,” Jones said.
He majored in English Literature in college and initially went into teaching. After eloping with “the love of his life” in New York, he was interested in the work she did as a paraprofessional at university libraries and went on to get a Master’s in Library Sciences.
The couple stayed in New York for several years but when they had a child, decided to raise them outside of the city. They moved to San Diego where Jones’ wife works at SDSU and he commuted to a library near UTC. Nine years later, he landed the job at College–Rolando that means he is close to home, his children’s school and his wife’s workplace. He can even walk or bike to work if he desires.
Now that he is at College–Rolando, Jones is focused on strengthening the Friends of the Library — a nonprofit organization that fundraises for programming at the library largely through book sales.
“A lot of the Friends over the past couple years have walked away. I know that we could have a much more robust Friends groups here, it's really just a matter of getting the word out, letting people know they're welcome, their ideas are welcome and we want to hear from them,” Jones said.
At whatever point library services return, Jones said he is ready to “hit the ground running” to use their rooms for events.
“We really want it to be like a community center again and I think people are going to be really excited to be doing social, in-person events again,” he said. “I’m just a librarian in the city. I honestly do what I do on a day-to-day basis but I do feel like there’s such a larger perspective of how important libraries are.”
For more information on the Friends of the Library, visit collegerolandolibrary.org. To take part in the library’s virtual events, visit facebook.com/collegerolandolibrary.
—Reach contributing editor Kendra Sitton at email@example.com.