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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Meet the Acting MCPL Director

Acting MCPL
Director Anita Vassallo
The Shout Out blog is happy to introduce Anita Vassallo in her new role as Acting Director of Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL).

Can you describe your career with MCPL?

I have had a pretty varied career with MCPL, and worked my way up through the ranks, you might say. I began with MCPL at age 15, as a library page at the former Four Corners library in Woodmoor. I was already an avid library user, and lived close enough to be able to walk to the library, so it was an ideal job. Later I was a desk assistant at the White Oak branch, and I held this job up until 1974 when I took a merit position as a library clerk at the old Bethesda branch on Moorland Lane. I moved around a bit, working at the Aspen Hill and Gaithersburg branches for short stints, and finally wound up at Film Services. Film Services provided 16 mm films to customers, and there were big machines that we ran to clean and repair them. I began working towards my MLS while at Film Services, and took my first librarian job as a children’s librarian at Kensington Park after receiving my degree. I have also worked as a librarian at Silver Spring and Gaithersburg. I worked at the Germantown branch as the senior librarian, at Davis as the manager, and most recently as the Public Services Administrator for IT Infrastructure, Digital Strategies and Emerging Technologies. Technology in libraries is a strong interest of mine, and I really enjoyed that position. I began my new role as Acting Director on August 1. I look forward to guiding MCPL until a permanent Director is appointed by the County Executive. MCPL employees are great, and I have an excellent team to work with for the next couple of years.

What are you looking forward to most in your new role as Acting Director of MCPL? 

I am looking forward to working with MCPL staff, other Montgomery County Government departments, our non-profit partners, and the community in order to provide the services that our residents need and want to enhance and improve their lives.

What do you like best about working in libraries? 

The people who use the libraries. The wide variety of reasons they have for using them keeps the job fresh and interesting. You can’t be bored working in a public library. Each day and each challenge is different, and the satisfaction when someone thanks you for your help is so immediate and real. I know that this phrase might sound trite, but libraries DO make a difference, and I love that we serve everyone and anyone no matter what.

What's your favorite read? What are you reading now? 

I love fantasy, I always have, but I read pretty widely. When I was working in the branches I made it a point to read things that were not exactly to my taste, so that I could be a reasonably well informed reader’s advisor. I just finished Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the 2017 One Maryland One Book selection. The author will be speaking Tuesday September 26th at Gaithersburg High School, which is very exciting for Montgomery County. Next on my list is the Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, and Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan, so you can see I’m all over the place.
Horse with rider
One of Anita Vassallo's horses,
"Dude's a Treasure."

What are your hobbies? 

I am fortunate enough to be able to have my own horses at home. Trail riding, and organizing Mounted Games competitions are my main hobbies I would say, although I do a bit of vegetable gardening. My other main hobby is commuting!

What else do you want us to know about you? 

I think that an important quality for anyone working to provide service to the public is the ability to listen, and take other people’s input into consideration when making decisions, while still staying focused on the mission and values of the organization. I think I’m a good listener, and I know that using the abilities and strengths of staff is crucial to the success of a library director.

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