Rogers Free Library welcomes a new director

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 11/26/20

Following a search that screened 34 candidates over three rounds of interviews, Ryan Brennan has been named the new director of the Rogers Free Library. He will begin on Monday, Nov. 30.

Mr. …

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Rogers Free Library welcomes a new director


Following a search that screened 34 candidates over three rounds of interviews, Ryan Brennan has been named the new director of the Rogers Free Library. He will begin on Monday, Nov. 30.

Mr. Brennan will step into the vacancy left by the retirement of Joan Prescott, and following the interim service of Assistant Director Jackie O’Brien and previous Assistant Director Kathy McGovern; as well as Nancy Kellner and Charlotte Burnham, both librarians employed in different positions at the library, who shared the role of director.

Search committee chairman Ruth Souto has been in the library and information services for over 30 years, so she’s well-acquainted with the field. She was very impressed with what she saw in Mr. Brennan. “Ryan’s got a ton of experience in both small community libraries and large urban ones — he’s done a lot at both,” she said. “He has great technology skills, which are so crucial to our needs right now, and he’s got great interpersonal skills.”

A Coventry native who attended Rhode Island College and graduated from URI in 2011 with a master’s in Library and Information Science, Mr. Brennan has had a series of jobs in libraries large and small, from Wyoming to North Kingstown to Brookline, most recently serving as a branch director in Dedham, Mass. “People tend to go for the long haul” in these positions, he said. “So unless you work in a really big system, you have to move around to move up.”

Mr. Brennan became interested in Library Sciences as an undergraduate at Rhode Island College, where his history major saw him spending lots of time in libraries — and he took an information literacy class that left a solid impression. Initially he thought he wanted to be an academic librarian, but realized during the course of his first paid internship in 2010 that he enjoyed the variety of working in the community library environment, from working with the public to developing programming.

As he looks to expand the information services offered in Bristol, Mr. Brennan cited the addition of maker spaces, including technology for 3D printing, laster cutting, and photoshop software, as something currently embraced by forward-thinking libraries. He also mentioned resource sharing — the loaning of items beyond  reading and visual resources  — as something he’d be interested in exploring.

“[Mr. Brennan] has got a lot going for him,” said Ms. Souto. “We needed the right director to take us to the next level while maintaining that personal touch.”

Three trustees leaving

Three longtime librart Trustees are stepping down, after decades of service to the library and the community: Elizabeth Brito, who has served since 1990; Madge Chianese, who has served since 1996; and Robert Arruda, who has served since 2001. All three were instrumental in the expansion of the library, something Joan Prescott described as the biggest accomplishment of her tenure.

“It is hard to believe that I have served as a trustee of the Rogers Free Library since 1990,” said Ms. Brito in a statement. “So much has changed at the library since that time, and yet it remains the personalized learning and sharing space that it has always been … My tenure as a Trustee has encompassed some significant developments: the building of the new library, and the capital campaign that supported that; the establishment of the Endowment of the Friends of the Rogers Free Library, which has grown and allowed the Friends to support considerable programming, capital expenses, and marketing efforts all intended to meet the needs of the community we serve.

“This library is a gift to the community, and it has been my pleasure to serve as a Trustee.”

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