Oscar Gittemeier brings a passion for community engagement and collaboration to Teton County Library at its new Director of Library Services. His first day at the library was July 13.
Prior to joining TCL he was the Outreach Manager for Adult Services at Fulton County Library System in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to an MS in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University, he has extensive education in management and leadership. In 2020 he served as the Vice-President/President-Elect of the Georgia Library Association.
In Atlanta, he worked closely with the Georgia Public Library Service and surrounding counties to launch program exchanges across county lines, explore resource sharing, and host large regional outreach programs that brought together libraries from across the state.
For many reasons, he knew Teton County was the right place for him. “One of our greatest strengths is the dedicated staff members that, despite the pandemic, are finding innovative ways to reach all our patrons. When I looked at the Teton County Library I found a team of joyful, engaged professionals.”
In addition to curbside service and virtual programs, TCL staff are exploring ways to Book a Librarian for a personally curated virtual browsing experience inside the library. This would serve immunocompromised patrons who are unable to come into community spaces as well as older patrons struggling with isolation.
“The TCL team is creative, thoughtful, and agile, which is necessary when adapting to a global pandemic,” Oscar said. “We’re innovating to serve all of our patrons regardless of ability or medical condition.”
Another strength Oscar sees at the library is its patrons and stakeholders. “The community, Foundation, and Friends support are remarkable. Teton County patrons absolutely love their public library and strongly support library initiatives.”
He added, “The views in Jackson aren’t too bad either. I ride my bike to work every day gazing at the mountains and enjoying the breeze off of Flat Creek. It’s the type of commute I could only dream of in Atlanta.”
Oscar hopes to build on TCL’s successes and build a larger library presence throughout Teton County, including Moran, Moose, and Hoback. He’s currently meeting with staff to explore outreach ideas like book vending machines, 24/7 lockers for holds, collaborations with community stakeholders, and curated gift deliveries from the library.
“Just before I left Atlanta we were launching Novel Deliveries, which is curated content specifically for you or a loved one. You simply complete a form to tell the library about a couple of your favorite books or movies and we curate content based on your interests and send you direct links to instantly stream or download movies, audiobooks, eBooks, and magazines. It’s a great way to reach out to your neighbors or loved ones while you’re physically distancing during the pandemic. I hope to launch a similar service in Teton County.”
He also has an interest in circulating non-traditional library items like GoPro cameras, binoculars, bear cans, and other items that might be popular in Teton County.
With the economic downturn and patrons out of work, he’s looking into ways to create an entrepreneurship hub and makerspace. This might include quiet rooms with videoconferencing equipment for interviews, skill building workshops, and technology workshops paired with print and digital collections.
“With a few key pieces of equipment, local makers, businesses, and non-profits could visit the library to create their own videos, commercials, or PSAs. Artists could record music, local stakeholders could host podcasts, and photographers could utilize editing software.”
He’s been impressed not just with his own library, but with the wider Wyoming library community. “In the short time I’ve been here I can already tell there’s a tight-knit, supportive library community in Wyoming. I absolutely love the statewide collaborations and resource sharing.” He’s now a member the Wyoming Library Association and looks forward to connecting with others at the 2020 virtual conference.
“I’m excited to learn from my colleagues around the state and connect with community partners. I’m just a phone call away if you ever want to chat about library collaboration. If you are ever in Jackson please stop by the library to say hello!”