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Dayton Metro Library Executive Director Returns Home To Where Career Started

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Jerry Kenney
Dayton Metro Library Executive Director, Jeffrey Trzeciak is a graduate of Chaminade-Julienne and the University of Dayton.

There’s a new Executive Director at the Dayton Metro Library. Jeffrey Trzeciak has held positions in St. Louis, Ontario and, most recently, New Jersey, but he’s no stranger to the Miami Valley.

Trzeciak is a graduate of Chaminade-Julienne and the University of Dayton, and in this interview with WYSO’s Jerry Kenney, he talks about being back in his hometown and back working at the library where his career started.

Transcript (edited lightly for length and clarity):

Jeffrey Trzeciak: I am new to the position, but I'm not new to Dayton, Ohio. [I was] born and raised here, but I've been gone for 25 years and now happy to be back. I have had the opportunity to visit some of our branches, not all of them. It's been a great experience.

I started with the Electra C. Doren Branch in Old North Dayton, which is also where I started my career in librarianship actually way back in 1985. Of course, it's been renovated since then and I've also had a chance to visit some of our newest branches as well, Trotwood, for example.

I think the thing that strikes me the most is that so many of these facilities are truly world class, beautiful branch libraries, beautiful main library. But the thing that I think is most striking about them is the staff, a really dedicated, very committed group of individuals, very creative and working very hard to serve the community.

Jerry Kenney: That dedication actually has been evident. As you've mentioned, these libraries have turned into world class facilities. They've added all kinds of complimentary services that do well to serve the public.

JT: That's true, and one of the reasons why I wanted to come back, not just the personal connections and the family connections, but this was a great opportunity for me professionally as well. The Dayton Metro Library has a reputation nationally among our colleagues, other institutions, as a place where really good work is happening, whether that is early childhood literacy or helping people find places to live, helping people to find work, get into college. And I think the last year has really tested us all. But I think Dayton Metro Library has really stepped up and is providing really innovative and much needed services.

JK: I read in your bio that a lot of your background was geared toward promoting social justice and I wonder how that might play into your new position here at the Dayton Metro Library.

JT: Well, I'm still getting my legs, my sea legs, so to speak, and still learning about the culture here at the Metro Library, the priorities, of course of the staff and the community and the Board. But yes, my background has largely been related to social justice issues and also related to diversity, equity and inclusion as well.

Probably the thing I'm most proud of is a project called Documenting Ferguson, which I started after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. But my career has always been around issues related to social justice.

I think because of the community here in the Dayton metro area, there is… it's a very diverse community and there have been there's always been an interest in social justice issues here as well. I'm a graduate of the University of Dayton, and if you look at my background and the work that I've done, a lot of it comes from my education, both at Chaminade-Juliann and also at the University of Dayton. I feel very strongly that libraries are here to serve the community in whatever way the community needs. And public libraries are probably one of the last places that people from all walks of life can come feel comfortable and get the services and support that they need in order to be successful, whether it's in their personal lives or their professional careers.

JK: So, tell me what it's like coming back to the community. Dayton has changed a lot since your time growing up.

JT: It has changed a lot. And in some ways, it's also… I won't say it's remained the same. In some ways it's been a constant I would say in some ways. My family do all live here. My parents live in Riverside. I have siblings and Huber Heights, Tipp City. and Dayton as well. So, I was able to come back periodically for family events. And so, I did see some of the changes that took place - for example, the minor league ball team in the stadium that's now downtown. There have been a lot of changes. So, as I drive around and I go to the branches, there's a sense of familiarity, but also a sense of newness.

I think what remains the same is that the city of Dayton and the surrounding area has always been a very resilient community and you can certainly see that in what's going on in terms of COVID, both from a health perspective, but also from an economic perspective as well. Daytonians have a real pride, a sense of place, being very proud of coming from the region and being very committed to the region as well. So, yeah, you see that a lot of the physical changes that have taken place, but the community remains a constant and remains strong.

JK: Jeffrey Trzeciak is executive director of the Dayton Metro Library. Thank you so much for speaking with us today.

JT: Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.