Deputy Director, Toledo Lucas County Public Library
MA, Information Resources and Library Science, University of Arizona, 2007; MA, American Culture Studies, Bowling Green State University, OH, 1999
Photo by Photo Works, Inc.
Impact by Design
When Jason Kucsma arrived in February 2015 at Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) as deputy director, he already had six years under his belt repositioning the Metro New York Library Council. One of his first goals at TLCPL was to work with the library’s public service administrators to formulate a strategic plan. The library’s prior plan had recently expired, and Kucsma knew they “needed a road map for change.” But, says Kucsma, “from day one, we made the conscious decision to break from the mold of the typical library strategic planning process, [i.e.], choose an objective from column A, choose a tactic from column B, repeat….”
The leadership’s desire to serve their community better is reflected in the plan. Over the seven months it took to develop, the TLCPL team worked with hundreds of community stakeholders, the general public, and more than 300 staff members. They posted a survey online to gather information from patrons and provided an email link so people could send thoughts and questions.
The hard work paid off. As Kucsma says, “We now have a plan that we—and our communities—own.”
The crux of it boils down to three main areas, says Kucsma: “supporting essential literacies (reading, financial, digital, health and wellness, etc.), increasing our community engagement, and fostering a culture of innovation and leadership….
[W]e are in the early stages of a systemwide shift…,” he adds, “ramping up an internal system for aggregating, visualizing, and remixing our data to make informed decisions about how we best put public funds to use.”
Kucsma also revamped the internal professional culture. That encompasses providing staff with training opportunities, including customer training; enhancing internal communications; restructuring and aligning staff selection and appraisal with plan objectives.
Kucsma’s colleagues will be the first to tell you about his exceptional work at TLCPL, from technical advancements to a facilities master plan to a collaborative approach, as well as a commitment to bringing about positive change, both for the communities TLCPL serves and for the dedicated employees. Kris Ward, assistant manager, TLCPL human resources, describes Kucsma’s work as “practical, memorable, accountable impact—by design.”