Emo Public Library welcomes familiar face as new CEO

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Emo Public Library has welcomed new CEO, Nick Donaldson, after Kathy Leek retired from this position after 28 years at the helm.

“This is the library I came to as a kid and I’ve known it for a long time,” Donaldson said. “The opportunity to run this library really interested me so I applied and luckily got the job.”

Donaldson has an English degree from the University of Guelph. He worked as a reporter at the Fort Frances Times for a year and then decided that his passion sits between the shelves. That is when he decided to earn his library and information technician diploma.

Donaldson said this diploma taught him everything that would be done at a library, from buying and ordering books to building up a collection, cataloging books, helping people with research and searching online for the right information, and helping people figure out their technologies.

This degree helped Donaldson get a casual clerk position at the Fort Frances Public Library in 2019. Shortly after that, he got the public services clerk position, which is the front desk. When the adult services clerk went on maternity leave, he also assumed the adult librarian position.

“The Fort Frances library was the first library I worked at and was where I learned about the practical hands-on things that I could not learn at school,” Donaldson said. “The staff there are really great and wonderful. They showed me what it means to be friendly to our patrons and to have that connection and that relation with them.”

With about 18 months of library experience under his belt, Donaldson said, his keenness to learn served him well when the CEO position opened up.

Donaldson said friendliness and willingness to help are personality traits those working at a library must have because a library is not just book storage, it is a community hub where people can come and feel at home no matter who they are.

“People come to the library expecting a certain level of outgoingness and friendliness,” Donaldson said. “When they come here, they want to feel known and feel at home. You get to know people by the name. People will come in and be a little timid because they do not know how to do something on their iPad. I’ve always been happy to help them with that and not act like it’s a burden.”

Although there is less traffic at the Emo library compared to the Fort Frances one, primarily because Emo is a smaller town, Donaldson said he hopes to introduce himself to all the patrons once they are able to safely open their doors.

Given Donaldson has been at his new position for two weeks, he said he will not make any big changes to the library operations, especially during a pandemic.

“I don’t think I can get the right feel for the library without it being open,” Donaldson said. “I’ll decide later if I want to make any big sweeping changes, but I don’t see that happening.”

Donaldson, being from Burriss, said he came to the Emo library to borrow movies and books.

“It was so exciting for me to come and pick out movies as well as books I’d love to read as a kid,” Donaldson said. “As a kid, and still now, I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction. As I’ve grown older, I will read pretty much anything. In fact, when I started at the Fort Frances library I was overwhelmed with all the different decisions of things to read.”

Nick Donaldson has taken over the helm of the Emo Library, after the retirement of Kathy Leek. Donaldson has a lifelong love of the Emo library, and is looking forward to serving the community. – Submitted photo

Donaldson said Leek provided an orientation prior to her departure and told him that she would be available should he have any questions. He also has support from Joan MacLean, the CEO at the Fort Frances library, Donaldson added.

“I look forward to meeting the people because a lot of people have trouble picking out books over the phone,” Donaldson said. “They want to come in and see the books. You then know what books they like and what catches their eyes and what interests them. You get to know their stories as they are chatting or browsing the books.”