MLA Current Featured Member: Gerald S. Brooks, Director of Community Relations and Programming for the St. Louis Public Library
Background: First, please tell us a little bit about yourself: Name, employment & current responsibilities, education, etc.:
My name is Gerald S. Brooks, and I am the Director of Community Relations and Programming for the St. Louis Public Library. I serve as a member of the senior management team and oversee staff responsible for all aspects of public programming, exhibitions, volunteers, and special events including planning, implementations, and logistics. In addition, I supervise the management of the Library’s meeting rooms and the programming and event spaces in Central Library. For the past 22 years, I have been in the Marketing Department-- the last 17 of those years as the department’s Director.
In January, I was asked to develop a new Department, titled Programs and Special Events. I am now the Director of Community Relations and Programming. I work collaboratively with Library staff and community partners to develop system-wide innovative programming that serves the diverse needs of the community and that is consistent with the mission and strategic goals of the Library. The Programming and Special Events Department establishes an effective community relations program, which increases the community’s awareness of Library programs and events. Another of my responsibilities is to provide leadership and direction to said department. The department works closely with the Marketing and Technology Departments to promote Library programs and events and it works with the staff of the Library Foundation to establish partnerships and sponsorship of Library programming initiatives and to publicize programs and events. I also represent the Library at public functions: I serve as a Library liaison to community groups and act as spokesperson for the Library.
Q1: What set you on your path to working in community relations and special events?
I would say working in the Marketing department. A lot of what the Community Relations and Special Events department does, was at one time the responsibility of the Marketing department, so I would say my experience in Marketing led me here.
Q2: What do you like most about being the Director of Programs and Special Events at St. Louis Public Library?
The look on a patron’s face when they have had a good experience at one of our events and the sweet satisfaction knowing it was me and my staff working with others in the system that put it there.
Q3: What do you think are the biggest challenges for anyone working in community relations and special events in a library setting?
Continuing to come up with fresh and inviting programs, events, and ideas to keep patrons coming in. We are competing against whole lot of other venues and events, so how do you keep the seats full and usage up?
Q4: If you were to hire someone to work in Programs and Special Events at SLPL what skills and/or qualities would you look for in a candidate?
Being the kind of department it is, you must have strong leadership, organizational, and people skills. This is a department where each member depends on the other to get the job done, so being a team player is essential. You also need good communication skills and you must have experience in working with the public.
Q5: What have you gotten out of your involvement in the Missouri Library Association?
My involvement in MLA started in 1999 as a member of the Legislative Committee and has been an eye-opening experience. It has given me a network to some of the most talented people you could ever want to meet. In 2000, I had the honor of being chosen by the State Librarian to be part of a committee that created a marketing tool for all libraries in the state. It helped me in my job as Director of Marketing and continues to help me in my new position as Director of Community Relations and Programming by working with Librarians across the State to keep informed of legislation that could affect my Library as well as others. Up until this year, I was the Federal Legislative Coordinator for MLA which gave me even more opportunities to learn from and experience Advocacy Day on the Washington D.C. level. I relinquished that position when I was elected President of MLA for 2014.
Do you know of a library or library person deserving of some recognition?
This page was last updated
March 19, 2014
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