Meet Tracy Strobel, Director-at-Large
I became the Deputy Director of the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Libraries in 2005 after 10 years of focusing on technology related services at the Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library and the Medina County (Ohio) District Library. I have a BA in Political Science from Kent State University and my MLS from SUNY Albany where I focused on Government Documents and Law Librarianship. After a soul crushing number of rejections while searching for positions in those specialty areas, I went to work in the private sector for a company that manufactured packaging machinery. I was hired as an IT Specialist regardless of the fact that I knew next to nothing about computers. After this five-year detour, I was able to transfer my new found technical skills to a position in public libraries. The mid to late 1990’s was an amazing time to be in public libraries especially with a focus on technology. I loved sharing the power of the Internet with the staff and public and navigating the challenging opportunities, policies, and politics it presented. Today I love the “never a dull moment” nature of my job. Whether there’s a new bed bug infestation, a crazy Mayor story, or someone trying to bring their service pony into the library, I always go home with a great tale to share at the dinner table. I am often joined at that dinner table by my husband Marty and my kids Nate (9) and Wren (7). We live on a horse farm where I run a small boarding stable (yes, I clean the ten stalls myself every day). I relentlessly fail to succeed at an equestrian sport I love called three day eventing that combines both dressage and jumping in a frustrating attempt to win $1 ribbons.
Why I wanted to serve on the PLA Board
I try hard to remain connected with the daily work and challenges our public librarians face. I hope to bring that front line perspective to the Board so that the continuing education and support offered by PLA is truly relevant and improves the experience and performance of those with their boots on the ground. I see my role on the Board as a communication conduit between library customers and professionals and our association. I am committed to advocating for public libraries that are evolving to meet their community’s changing demands and I am so excited to now be in a position of influence.
My vision for the future of public libraries
Frankly, I envision that our future will be one of fighting for survival. Sorry if that sounds like a downer but I think it is important to acknowledge and even embrace the fact that some people question whether or not the public library is a necessary part of every community. Of course we believe that it is but it is critical that we’re on point every day ready to justify why and for whom we are a necessity. Our future is one of evolution and advocacy. We must evolve to meet changing community needs and advocate so that all are aware of what we offer. PLA is here to make sure we have the skills and resources to succeed.
My favorite book
Anyone who knows me can feel free to roll their eyes here but my favorites are two great horse stories: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. Both stories transported me to a different time and place by means of a main character that I adored. What else could you ask for in a good book?
Somewhere I love to frequent in my community
There are actually eight locations I love to frequent in my community and those are the eight Mitchell’s Ice Cream Shops sprinkled throughout the county. Ice cream = happiness and Mitchell’s makes the happiest. A double scoop of black raspberry dark chocolate chunk in a waffle cone will turn around any frown. Of our twenty-seven library branches, the ones that are near a Mitchell’s Ice Cream Shop know they’ll see me more often!
Photo: Tracy in mid-jump.