Member Spotlight - Ryan Johnson

May 16, 2022

This week's member spotlight is on Ryan Johnson. Ryan is the director at O'Fallon Public Library, a member of the ILA Best Practices Committee, a co-coordinator of the ILA Legislative Meet-up Metro East, and the new ILA President-Elect. We asked Ryan to tell us about himself and answer a few professional and amusing questions. Keep reading to learn more about Ryan. 

A little background on Ryan

I was not a reader growing up, even through high school.  I was firmly in the “fake your way through the test” club anytime we had to read a book for class. It wasn’t until college that I started encountering books that captivated me. The first one was probably Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel. 

Today I would count myself as a reader, but nowhere near the strongest in our house. My wife, Michelle, is prolific and routinely trounces me in our annual Goodreads challenges. She does this despite us having a little one in the house. Our daughter, Loey, was born in April 2021 and is simply perfect in every way (sure, I might be biased). 

How did you get into libraries?

About a week after high school graduation, I got a job at the local community college I was attending (shout out to Rend Lake College!) as a student worker in the Reference Department. That lead to a job at SIUE’s Lovejoy Library two years later and after a three-year hiatus teaching high school history, I landed back in libraries in 2011. Been here ever since.

Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?

Wow, I’m not sure where to start. I’m so grateful to all the great bosses I’ve had and the professional development opportunities I’ve received. If I had to pick one, I’d go with, one boss who really encouraged me to go to grad school.  She said it would unlock doors, and it has. 

Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?

Libraries are about people, not books. Be good to the people you work with. Be good to the people you serve.

When and why did you become a member of ILA?

Because libraries matter? Is that too on the nose? Seriously though, joining ILA seemed like the logical, no-brainer. If you are going to be a part of something (in this case the library community), why not join an organization doing great work in that space?

Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, or all three?

My preference is a plain-Jane e-reader (not a tablet!), but I’ll read all three. Few things beat a mass market paperback on vacation though. 

Favorite author?

Emily St. John Mandel knocked it out of the park with both Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel. If she wrote on the back of a napkin, I would read it.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?

I’ll choose something I’ve never read, the first five books of the Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. One, they are massive and will keep me busy for a very long time. Two, I would never have the time or patience to read them in normal life. Three, I really like fantasy and can see myself getting immersed in them. 

Cat or Dog?

Dogs, as long as they are good dogs. Our two current ones sometimes have us questioning our dog parenting skills.

Favorite film, podcast, or television show?

I’ll do one of each. Film, Snatch. Podcast, 99% Invisible. TV show, Seinfeld.

One person you would like to meet, dead or alive why?

I’ll cheat on this one and name two. I have a Great Great Grandma Stich on my mom’s side and a Great Great Grandma Hand on my dad’s side. Both died before I was born but have been talked about with such reverence over the years that I think it would be neat to meet them both.

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