Meet the Staff – Ryan Johnson

Most patrons recognize Ryan as our cheerful, tech-wise-problem-solver. But, this month we asked him to share some of the key changes in his role here and at home. Also, when you see Ryan, be sure and ask him about his dogs.

I’m now on my third job title here at the O’Fallon Public Library.  In March 2014, I joined the team as our Adult Services Manager.  In May 2017, I stepped up as Assistant Director.  And since this past December 1, I’ve been serving as Library Director.   

These last six-ish years have flown by, both professionally and personally.  On the work side, I’ve seen some great coworkers come and go, we endured a major renovation project, and the pace of change and innovation has been brisk.  I feel very fortunate, though, to land in this spot.  Way back in 2007, I graduated from SIUE with a plan to be a public-school teacher.  After three hard years I was defeated and burnt out.  By some luck of the universe I got a part-time job on the front desk at the Fairview Heights Public Library.  I remain good friends with my old boss from that job and am ever so grateful to her to for giving me a chance.  I fell in love with the work and soon realized I had found my new career path. 

From Fairview Heights, I went to the Glen Carbon library for my first full-time library gig.  While there, another great boss encouraged me to pursue my master’s degree in the field.  Luckily, I took her advice and a couple short years later I graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Library Science. 

It was that education and some fortunate connections in my professional network that landed me my initial interview here.  Thinking about it now, I’m reminded of a line in a book I recently read The Institute by Stephen King, in case you were wondering).  The line reads, “Great events turn on small hinges.”  I didn’t fully realize it then, but that interview had a profound effect on my life’s trajectory.

Personally, life has been on a good track as well. 

This past September, my now-wife and I eloped to the mountains of North Carolina.  The previous year we purchased a house here in O’Fallon (I was very tired of commuting from Glen Carbon).  We do what I feel like a lot of childless couples in their thirties do: talk to our dogs as if they were kids and stream a lot of online content. 

Kona and Barcy

I’ll use that last statement to segue into some quick recommendations.  First off, we just recently finished Modern Love on Amazon Prime.  It’s good.  Really good.  Each episode is its own stand alone story with fresh characters.  The show is based off the long running column in the New York Times.  I’m sure several liberties have been taken in making the show, but at least there is a foundation of truth behind these tales.

For a book, let’s go with Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell.  One of my many wonderful coworkers recently recommended this title and I’m so glad she did.  If you interact with people (like at all), you should seriously consider reading this book.  The basic gist is that we all think we know how to read people, but none of us do.  Hence, consequences. 

Movie time.  This is an anti-recommendation.  For some reason, on New Year’s Eve my wife and I decided to watch Golden Eye (the 90s James Bond film with Pierce Brosnan).   I had fond memories of playing the video game on N64 with my friends but had actually never seen the movie.  It’s not good. 

When I’m not at work, coddling dogs, or watching terrible movies, I’m likely involved with one of my many hobbies.  Those include geeky things like D&D and fantasy baseball, hipster things like home-brewing and podcasts, and outdoorsy things like gardening, hiking and running. 

If you can’t tell, I like to stay busy. 

Inspired by Ryan’s Suggestions:

Modern Love, Revised and Updated – True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption, Edited by Daniel Jones – The most popular, provocative, and unforgettable essays from the past fifteen years of the New York Times “Modern Love” column—including stories from the upcoming anthology series starring Tina Fey, Andy Garcia, Anne Hathaway, Catherine Keener, Dev Patel, and John Slattery

A young woman goes through the five stages of ghosting grief. A man’s promising fourth date ends in the emergency room. A female lawyer with bipolar disorder experiences the highs and lows of dating. A widower hesitates about introducing his children to his new girlfriend. A divorcée in her seventies looks back at the beauty and rubble of past relationships.

These are just a few of the people who tell their stories in Modern Love, Revised and Updated, featuring dozens of the most memorable essays to run in The New York Times “Modern Love” column since its debut in 2004.

Edited by longtime “Modern Love” editor Daniel Jones and featuring a diverse selection of contributors—including Mindy Hung, Trey Ellis, Ann Hood, Deborah Copaken, Terri Cheney, and more—this is the perfect book for anyone who’s loved, lost, stalked an ex on social media, or pined for true romance: In other words, anyone interested in the endlessly complicated workings of the human heart.

Our Dogs, Ourselves by Alexandra Horowitz – We keep dogs and are kept by them. We love dogs and (we assume) we are loved by them. We buy them sweaters, toys, shoes; we are concerned with their social lives, their food, and their health. The story of humans and dogs is thousands of years old but is far from understood. In Our Dogs, Ourselves, Alexandra Horowitz explores all aspects of this unique and complex interspecies pairing.

As Horowitz considers the current culture of dogdom, she reveals the odd, surprising, and contradictory ways we live with dogs. We celebrate their individuality but breed them for sameness. Despite our deep emotional relationships with dogs, legally they are property to be bought, sold, abandoned, or euthanized as we wish. Even the way we speak to our dogs is at once perplexing and delightful.

Wedding Pictures

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