Jason Kucsma serves as the Deputy Director of the Toledo Lucas County Library, which in simpler terms, means that he is the Head Librarian in Charge and he takes his position very seriously. Many people think a library is just books, however, the Toledo Lucas County Library system welcomed three million visitors and developed and hosted 6,000 programs last year from robotics demonstrations, kids’ story time, writing workshops, business development, and more. A library can be a lot of different things to a lot of people, which is why Jason views his work as a librarian as more of a social change agent because he is ensuring equal access to information for everyone. “The library is one of the only democratic institutions providing equal access to information and entertainment regardless of race, age, religion, or socioeconomic status,” adds Jason.
The Importance of the Library
If you think long enough, most people have a childhood library story, and it is one of the few places that brings everyone together because of its importance in the community. After spending several years as a media activist and working with non profits and publications, such as, Allied Media Projects and Clamor Magazine, Jason moved to Tucson, Arizona, to pursue a Masters in Library Sciences. This degree opened up a whole new world, and Jason began to understand and appreciate the depth and breadth of the work of librarians. He always thought he would work in academic libraries, however, the public library was calling his name.
In addition to being a Master Librarian, Jason is also a husband and father to twin toddlers and is passionate about making sure his children are exposed to all types of people and become well rounded individuals. Also, when so many native Toledo residents speak negatively about the city, Jason, hailing from the east suburbs of Cleveland is an advocate. He’s lived from Cleveland, Tucson, and New York City and believes that Toledo is a rare gem of a place with an amazing well kept library system, sprawling metro parks, and an art museum with a massive and diverse collection. You would be hard pressed to find this kind of quality of life that is accessible to everyone anywhere else.
A Seat at the Table
Jason is also a proud member of the Public Library Association Task Force for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. He says, “I’m really passionate about empowerment in many different ways. Empowerment is about equity and equality. Equality means that everyone gets the same thing. However equity means equal access and the same opportunities. We have to focus on equity.”
The Toledo Lucas County Library system not only thinks of ways to get people in the door, but they are constantly pushing their programs out into the community with their mobile library unit, music in the park, and librarians meeting with family to talk about early literacy. Many important discussions take place at libraries, and Jason is determined to make sure everyone has a seat at the table or the table is brought to them.
Jason is a speaker at TEDxToledo 2017 | OVERCURRENT. Tickets are available now here.