Aaron Mason: The Swiss Army Knife of the Radford Public Library

4 min read The Radford Public Library is the Swiss Army knife of the Radford community, which they humbly hand over.

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By: Dylan Lepore | dlepore1@radford.edu

The Radford Public Library is the Swiss Army knife of the Radford community, which they humbly hand over.

Mason’s starting pay, in his first full-time job as Circulation Coordinator, was $35,000 annually, working Monday through Friday (with no work on most holidays) eight hours a day, roughly $16.70 per hour. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay, as of 2018, for Library Technicians and Assistants was $29,640 per year or $14.25 per hour.Once visiting the library for the first time there isn’t much of a difference from a typical library: there are employees at the front desk assisting people, and there are many books as one would expect; however, a look behind the curtain will reveal a plethora of opportunities, tools, and helpful employees that elevate the average library experience.

One of those employees is Aaron Mason, the library’s full-time Circulation Coordinator, who is in charge of the part-time staff and their schedules, adult programming, issuing passports, helping locals find jobs and the regular routines of running a library.

“So just like being there and being so many different things to so many different people can get hectic sometimes, but still, it’s just great to be able to help people directly and not really make money from them,” Mason said. “We do charge for printing and faxing, but that’s a very very small fee. We are not here to sell people stuff or get the most money we can get out of them. We are here to help them any way we can.”

Graduating from Virginia Tech in the class of 2015, Mason didn’t quite know what he wanted for a career. He took up part-time jobs selling things and taking money from people at places where he felt unsatisfied.

Mason went back to square one to think about what he loved doing and how to make it a career. An affinity for reading took Mason to the Christiansburg Library, where after a week on the job, he claimed to find his occupation finally.

It turns out that it’s quite hard to get a full-time library position as most employees love their jobs so much they don’t want to leave, according to Mason. Still, August 2018 rolled by, and the Radford Public Library was looking for a new Circulation Coordinator. The director of the library knew Mason’s work at Christiansburg and felt confident in his abilities.

While Mason is earning an extra $5,500 than the median, it’s not about the money. He claims that he is not the most extroverted person; however, when it comes to helping people, especially at his library, Mason will do the best he can because he believes the “most important thing is: going to help people in the community.”Mason’s starting pay, in his first full-time job as Circulation Coordinator, was $35,000 annually, working Monday through Friday (with no work on most holidays) eight hours a day, roughly $16.70 per hour. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay, as of 2018, for Library Technicians and Assistants was $29,640 per year or $14.25 per hour.

While Mason is earning an extra $5,500 than the median, it’s not about the money. He claims that he is not the most extroverted person; however, when it comes to helping people, especially at his library, Mason will do the best he can because he believes the “most important thing is: going to help people in the community.”

While Mason has many duties as the Circulation Coordinator, a typical day at the library can be a number of tasks from morning to night. Older folks come in around the morning time to read the paper, with students studying, researching, and getting their GED; to the afternoon where kids from the John N Dalton Intermediate school need a place to go when their parents are still at work. The Winters are slow, but the fluctuation of traffic depends on what the library is doing on any particular day.

Katherine Kelley, another library employee, spoke about Mason, stating, “He has such a great sense of humor, and he communicates so well with other employees … I just can’t say enough nice things about him.” She even spoke about how he bakes food for public programs and how he now has a loyal following for that.

Katherine Kelley, another library employee, spoke about Mason, stating, “He has such a great sense of humor, and he communicates so well with other employees … I just can’t say enough nice things about him.” She even spoke about how he bakes food for public programs and how he now has a loyal following for that.Since Mason’s time at the Radford Public Library, he has seen a growth in circulation where it used to be static. They have increased the amount of drives they have, the number of materials people can check out, and even have a considerable audiobook collection, which they put right in the front of the store, that has seen great success in increasing circulation.

Mason has even helped with the infrastructure of how the library works by adding a second check-in and checkout process, due to past materials not correctly getting off the accounts of their loaners. The new method has helped build more trust in the library and also further increased material circulation by being more thorough.

The next step for Mason’s journey is getting a Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) at Old Dominion University through their new online course, which was the first of its kind in Virginia, introduced last semester. Mason said it’s what he needs to move further in his library career. It would allow him to work in more public, academic, and special focus libraries, such as law or health sciences. It could also take him into museums, archives, and even digital and physical knowledge collections.

Mason plays a huge part in adding his skills and know-how to the Swiss Army knife that is the Radford Public Library, and he would do it again.

“I definitely found my calling for sure, and even on the worse most stressful days, it’s still the best job I’ve ever had,” Mason said.

A tip he leaves to anyone wanting to pursue a career in working at libraries is, “As long as

Photo Credit: (Dylan Lepore)