JEFFERSONVILLE — As David Seckman takes over leadership at the Jeffersonville Township Public Library, his vision is to “break down barriers” for the community to use the library’s services.
David Seckman started Aug. 31 as director of the public library, which includes the main branch in Jeffersonville and the Clarksville branch. The former director, Libby Pollard, retired at end of 2019.
This is Seckman’s first job as a library director. He has previously worked in libraries in Florida and Washington state, and before starting at this library, led a branch library in Tacoma, Washington. He is a “Midwesterner at heart” who grew up in Central Illinois and attended Indiana University, he said.
“I’m just really thrilled to be here,” he said, adding it seemed like a “nice fit for sure.”
As the new director, he faces the challenge of navigating the library through the COVID-19 pandemic. Although certain services are limited or at reduced capacity, the library is now open for both in-person and virtual services.
Both the Jeffersonville and Clarksville libraries recently completed renovations, and the Jeffersonville library opened the new Tom and Mary Frances Koetter Makerspace earlier this year. The library describes the addition as “a space for our patrons to interact with tools and technology they may not otherwise encounter, and to be a space where people can gather, create, invent, and learn.”
Seckman said his goal is to make it easier for people to use the library, including “making it more convenient, ensuring we have equitable access for everyone — and finding out what that looks like —and always trying to improve our service to our community,” he said.
Community outreach and engagement are among his main focuses, Seckman said.
“I”m thinking of ways that we can serve our whole community,” he said. “I’d like to do more outreach to retirement homes and that sort of things, see if there’s anything we can do with jails and that sort of thing — just to make sure we’re reaching everybody.”
The COVID-19 pandemic made the library rethink many of its services, and Seckman believes that continuing services such as virtual programming and curbside service will help expand the library’s reach into the community.
“For example, we started doing a lot of virtual programming through Zoom,” he said. “There are folks during regular times who might not be able to make it to the library, so I think once things cool down with COVID, we’re still going to offer some of those virtual programs. It’s just another way to reach people and break down barriers that we might have overlooked before.”
Seckman wants people to view the library as welcoming space for everyone in the community.
“I think people think of libraries as kind of quiet space for contemplation, but I think now they’re also more of a community hub — a place that people come together and meet and exchange ideas and that sort of thing,” he said. “That’s how I see the future of libraries — that collaborative space that offers that free exchange of ideas.”
Dale Moss, president of the JTPL board of trustees, said that as the board was reviewing candidates for the position, Seckman stood out as someone who would “really take us into the future in exciting new ways.
“We want the library to be important and relevant in the future, and that means it needs to keep looking at new things to do and change,” he said. “David is someone who worked outside at different libraries, and he will bring fresh ideas and new ideas. Really, the goal is to try and figure out some way to get everyone connected to the library.”