From ‘Reluctant Reader’ to City’s Assistant Library Director

January 21, 2016

Jason Homer has evolved from growing up as a self-described “reluctant reader” to being named assistant director of the Marlborough Public Library (MPL) beginning in August 2015.

“When I was a teenager, I did not love to read,” he acknowledged. “If you told a 15-year-old Jason that he was going to be a librarian in 10 years, he would have laughed at you.”

What a difference a positive interaction between an attentive librarian and a college student can make. As a freshman at Stonehill College, Homer needed help with an English project. He consulted the reference librarian.

“I’d been struggling for weeks, and this guy found so much information about the project in a couple of minutes,” Homer relayed. “It was the librarian’s ability to show me what kind of research existed that really sparked my love for libraries.”

Homer’s intent to become an English teacher changed to pursuing a career as a librarian. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English literature at Stonehill College in 2009, he earned a master’s degree in library and information science at Simmons College in 2011.

“Librarians took me through a journey of information,” he said. “I wanted to start doing that with other people.”

While studying at Simmons, Homer began gaining library work experience. He worked as an assistant circulation supervisor at Regis College, and as an adult services librarian at Middleborough Public Library. In those positions, he enjoyed connecting with diverse library patrons.

“I especially loved working with reluctant readers, young men who were like me,” he shared. “I found out what they liked and got them excited about books.”

After graduating from Simmons, he worked for a year as a research and instruction librarian at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Its library assists departments with the school’s Interactive Qualifying Project, a nine-credit-hour interdisciplinary requirement involving applied research that connects science or technology with social issues and human needs.

“Students at WPI are brilliant and amazing,” Homer said. “Helping those students do research and finding information for them was always really rewarding.”

For the next three years, he worked as a technology coordinator at Wellesley Free Library. There, he developed a class on WordPress and taught small business owners to build their own websites.

“There’s a lot of successful small business owners in Wellesley, but many of them are a bit old school,” he noted. “Helping them catch up to the digital age was exciting.”

When MPL’s former reference librarian retired, the assistant director position was created to oversee the reference department as well as organizational changes. Homer’s first day on the job coincided with the library reopening after the building temporarily closed due to a flood.

“It was an exciting first day,” Homer said with a laugh.

He’s looking forward to once again applying his technology skills and interest in supporting small businesses by offering classes at the MPL.

“Those will start as we make some small, inexpensive, physical changes to the building to better support technology classes,” he explained. “I see a thirst for it from small business owners, and I’m thirsty to teach it.”

Originally from Brockton and now living in Wayland, Homer noted that he’s inspired by the MPL patrons’ passion. During the recent holidays, they frequently left baked goods for the staff.

“I’ve never worked for a library where patrons wanted to give thanks and drop off some treats,” he said. “It’s not good for my waistline, but it’s great for seeing how appreciative this community is. That’s really the most rewarding part of coming to Marlborough.”