February 17, 2018

Bruce Massis | Movers & Shakers 2002

Thinks Globally, Acts Globally

Uniting information providers accross the Caribbean

“Hey Bruce, what’s the latest?” is how Bruce Massis’s friends and former colleagues regularly greet him at library conferences. The latest is inevitably one–or more likely several–new projects, publications, grants, or ideas that the high-energy, ever-enthusiastic Massis has devoted himself to.

These days, his latest is the International Summit on Library Cooperation in the Americas, to be held this spring in Miami, FL. It is being jointly sponsored by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)–an organization that Massis has been active in for years–and SEFLIN, the Southeast Florida Library Information Network, where Massis is associate director. He recently encouraged SEFLIN to join IFLA, with the intent to bring on board new member libraries located in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We are in the perfect place to initiate this, in terms of our geography, and at the perfect time, in terms of what technology can now make possible,” says Massis. Southeast Florida has strong financial, cultural, and linguistic ties to the Caribbean and Latin America, he explains, “and now is the time to build informational ties as well.” What benefits does Massis see in making a U.S. library cooperative international? Networking and cooperative agreements are obvious possibilities, he says. South Florida libraries, serving large immigrant populations, could clearly benefit from the expertise of information professionals in other countries, “either as consultants or as members of our staffs.” International members would provide SEFLIN with more than just new revenue streams, Massis asserts, but new lifeblood and challenges, “which is what helps a cooperative grow.” Finally, SEFLIN would also be able to provide Caribbean and Latin American libraries with their multilingual Technology Training Program.


Current position: Associate Director, SEFLIN, Southeast Florida Library Information Network

Degree: MLS, Queens College, NY, 1974

Who knew?: Yeoman Third Class on the U.S.S. Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine

SEFLIN’s Technology Training Program, Massis’s “latest” project from two years ago, has received accolades from the state of Florida and SEFLIN directors alike. It serves over 3000 staff members in 25 libraries or library systems, including both academic and public libraries. Recognizing that adults learn in different ways, its three approaches–web-based training, dedicated-class training, and voucher-class training–makes it perfect for expansion. In creating the program, Massis looked closely at corporate models, putting together technology training that uses several vendors. “Technology training is not an add-on for library staff,” he says. “It’s essential.”

Before coming to SEFLIN, Massis was director of New Jersey’s Hoboken Public Library, where he “brought the library into the 20th century” by automating its catalog, and manager of Brooklyn’s central library. While a relative newcomer to public libraries–most of Massis’s career has been in library services to the visually impaired–it is a world he clearly loves. Staff development is key to Massis, who believes that “staff is everything” and that if you have a great staff, they’ll just make you look great. Massis’s forthcoming book, The Practical Library Manager (Haworth, 2002), focuses on the practical issues of staffing and the importance of continuous staff education and training.

Massis’s belief that library services can not only be provided globally but can benefit from such a model is rooted in his nearly 20 years at the Jewish Guild for the Blind. There he directed the largest private library of audiobooks and magazines and coordinated an international network of 260 libraries in 88 countries. “If experience has taught me one thing, it is that libraries everywhere face similar issues,” Massis says. “This is why it can be effective to share programs and services worldwide.”