April 23, 2018

Jason Johnson | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Community Builders

Jason Johnson

CURRENT POSITION

Community Engagement Manager, Spokane Public Library

DEGREE

MLIS, University of Washington, 2010

FOLLOW

Buffalo Jones blog; Buffalo Jones on Facebook

Photo by Douglas Gritzmacher

MS_logo_300x81

Chords and Connections

When Jason Johnson started at the Spokane County Library District (SCLD) in 2004, he saw it as a day job—one that allowed him to concentrate on the music and other creative endeavors he had moved to Eastern Washington to pursue. He’s been a rock musician for years, mostly playing in the band Buffalo Jones.

Then, he started producing videos, music, and other content for SCLD’s social media department, and he realized that blending his passions with library work could be his path forward. While he continued moving up the ranks at SCLD, his arrival at the Spokane Public Library (SPL) in early 2016 led him to the next step in synthesizing his creative and career goals.

“I felt like I finally got to align my skills and passions in a way that could make a difference in the community,” says Johnson. “Deputy Director Caris O’Malley [a 2014 Mover & Shaker] and Executive Director Andrew Chanse have given me the freedom and support to implement some very ambitious projects and to really drive my vision of the Downtown Library.”

Among those projects is LevelUp, a coworking space hosting new technology and tools, including a Bloomberg terminal (rare in libraries). “Jason turned stale, underused space into something magical and highly functional—a best-in-class resource for local professionals to convene and collaborate,” says Chanse. User interest and attendance have risen accordingly. More than 30,000 people visited LevelUp in 2017, driving meeting room usage up more than 50 percent over the previous year.

“One customer utilized the space’s new iMacs, which are loaded with software unavailable elsewhere in the library, to teach himself how to code,” says Johnson. “He was recently homeless, and the LevelUp space has allowed him to start applying for coding jobs.”

Playing to his musical background, Johnson also oversaw the opening of SPL’s new performance space, the Community Lens, “overlooking one of the best views in the city,” says Chanse. The space hosts visual artists, musical acts, and events such as the Individual World Poetry Slam Championship, as well as the local talk show Lilac City Live, which highlights the work of artists and performers from around Spokane.

“Spokane has such a vibrant arts, music, and comedy scene,” says Johnson. “I wanted to find a way to showcase that aspect of our city.” This packed calendar has helped make the library a downtown destination for Spokane citizens and a cultural anchor in the community. “The sky’s the limit for what we can accomplish in the Community Lens,” says Johnson.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Share
Building Literacy-Rich Communities
Hosted by Library Journal and School Library Journal, Stronger Together is a national gathering of thought leaders and innovators from across the country who will share where and how partnerships between school districts and public libraries are having success. Join us May 10–12 at the University of Nebraska Omaha, as we explore the impact these collaborations are having on the institutions, communities, and kids they serve.
Maker Workshop
In this two-week online course, you’ll create a maker program that aligns with your budget and community needs, with personal coaching from maker experts—from libraries and beyond—May 23 & June 6, 2018.

Comments

  1. Ellen Miller says:

    Congratulations, Jason! It has been a pleasure following your accomplishments through the years.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*