The New Jersey native is now the library services director for Bruton Memorial. His passion for technology and collaborative spirit are sure to shepherd in a new era at the library.
Bruton Memorial Library is officially under new leadership.
Paul Shaver has fully stepped into the role as the new library services director and has hit the ground running. Shaver has a master’s degree in library and information sciences and a master’s in education.
With the new leader comes a new focus for the library and Shaver said his goal is to highlight the strengths of his team and increase the technology reach for Bruton.
“The library has its own mission statement and that obviously is the vision that I’m going to work toward alongside this amazing staff,” Shaver said. “I think collaboration is really the foundation of this library and if you look at the reviews of our patrons, they sense that spirit of community as well. We have a team of really qualified staff that provide incredible services for the community. We have outstanding viral programs too, and what I do on the ground is I really examine what’s going on here and then ask, ‘What can I bring to them to help them further their work and their visions?’ I believe it starts with sort of the focus on building human relationships.”
There are always areas to expand and grow, but Shaver believes the start of any change always lies with understanding people and finding ways to help them with their passions. Part of his passion — tech — will become a main focus for Shaver. He said he loves helping people understand how to properly use technology to think outside the box.
With the pandemic still underway, Shaver said Bruton will lean into the lessons society has learned over the last few months and will come up with a mission to combine the old programs and services with a new, safe way of operating. As soon as it is possibly safe to hold gatherings again, Shaver said, the library will once more host its in-person programs. But the pandemic has taught them all that there needs to be a bigger push for virtual amenities.
The staff members have already started to think outside the box to continue library services, but Shaver said they’re just getting started on making the library accessible from wherever its patrons are.
Shaver originally considered a career in teaching. Born and raised in New Jersey, he decided he would aim to become an English literature professor. Instead he ended up teaching math with a very strong focus on integrating technology in his classroom.
Shaver is fluent in English and Spanish and has working conversational abilities in French, Italian, Portuguese and Russian. Because of his linguistic skills he was constantly pulled out of class to help translate between staff and parents. He realized the students often had to act as the sole translators for their parents and that inevitably, unfortunately ended with much getting lost in translation.
So Shaver decided to offer classes at night for parents who wished to learn English. The classes grew faster than he expected and he started using his skills teaching at libraries. It was there he found his true passion and his love for libraries led him toward a career he said has changed his life.
He loves developing collections and has proudly grown the non-English texts at his former job, including its Hindi and Arabic collections. Working in libraries allows employees to wear a variety of hats and he said he is always learning and evolving.
New Jersey became part of the epicenter at the start of the pandemic shortly before Shaver’s son was born. He said he was in a position he loved with staff he adored, but he and his wife had no family in the area. Now that they had a child they considered moving to either North Carolina or Florida to be closer to their loved ones. When Plant City popped up on his radar, he said, he did his research and immediately fell in love with the strong sense of community he discovered. The demographics of the city showed there was a great potential for growth in the area and he quickly realized he was completely in line with the city’s vision for the future.
When he was brought on, he and his wife packed up their belongings, made a short stop to see family so his son’s grandparents could hold their grandson for the first time and then rolled into town. He immediately got started at Bruton and said the sense of community in Plant City is unlike anything he’s ever experienced.
“It’s been incredible,” Shaver said. “And not just at work. I went to Norma’s downtown and ABC Pizza, and people went out of their way to talk to me and share their stories and ask about mine. There was a kindness here that, combined with people’s love of the library and their knowledge of the community, I think makes this a wonderful place to live. People are very serious about seeing that explosive growth in the city and there is an intelligence and focus, but people still take the time to get to know their neighbors and take care of each other. It’s just something I really appreciate.”
His first few weeks have included a deep dive into the City of Plant City’s vision. He said City Manager Bill McDaniel and his team have a wonderful plan for the future of the city and that he is honored to be a part of it.
You can currently get the most up-to-date information about Bruton from the library’s Facebook page. Shaver said he hopes to soon begin creating a website that is extremely user-friendly and has lots of amenities to bring the library and its services into people’s homes.
“I hope first and foremost that people see me as a kind person,” Shaver said. “Then I think it’s going to be obvious that I have a passion for tech and I hope to see where others’ passions are. For example, if someone on staff’s passion is about guitars, I hope we can begin to incorporate a program where they can utilize that skill. I have a passion for what I do and I believe this staff does as well. Anyone that wants to talk about libraries will always find a willing listener with me. I’m just very excited and honored to get started and help Bruton play a role in bringing the city’s vision to life.”