Written by Lisa Mauch, Content Specialist, Downtown Main Library
When people hear the word “library” a few things typically come to mind, namely librarians and books. But a library is run by people working in many different roles. They’re all helping community members with much more than book recommendations. Our series Spend a Day with a Library Worker takes you inside the lives of our library staff in different roles and follows them on a typical workday.
While all our branches are filled to the brim with books and other materials, the foundation of the Library is all the different buildings that house these resources. The Facilities Department staff are the ones tasked with maintaining these foundations. Currently, they’re busy turning multiple branches into Next Generation Libraries, doing everything from repainting and carpeting to helping out with major renovation projects. In honor of World Facilities Management Day May 12, I joined Ronnie Ross, a Maintenance Supervisor in the Facilities Department, on-site at the Anderson Branch refresh to learn more about the people making these astonishing transformations happen.
Journey to the Library
Ronnie is originally from Williamsburg, Va., and after getting married in 2009 he moved to Charlottesville, Va.
"Facilities work was not always my career choice. I earned my degree in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design, so I actually worked for a drafting company while in college designing floor plans for homes. I decided I was more of a ‘hands-on’ person and I’ve been doing construction/facilities work ever since," said Ronnie. "While we lived in Charlottesville I worked for an off-grounds student housing company as a maintenance technician. I did everything from complete renovations to cleaning out garbage disposals."
His wife earned her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry and took a job at the University of Cincinnati. So, the Ross family moved to the Greater Cincinnati area four years ago and Ronnie started working at the Library as a maintenance technician. A year later he was promoted to maintenance supervisor.
"That first facilities job provided me many of the skills I use for my current job. I was quickly promoted there, and was able to lead 10-person teams to do our turnovers for all of the rental properties. This was a high-paced job that was completed in three weeks for 40 houses and 15 apartment buildings. I also was the shop manager, so I did much of the ordering for work supplies, and for big projects," said Ronnie. "That job challenged me daily and allowed me to grow. I was able to learn many things that I have been able to bring to the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library."
All in a Day’s Work
"One of the main reasons I came to work at the Library was because of the benefits that it offers. In addition, I may be a facilities employee (behind the scenes/operation), but I’m very much a service person. So, I see this job as an opportunity to serve the community here in Cincinnati, and also to serve the staff on their day-to-day needs," said Ronnie.
According to him, there’s no such thing as a "typical day" in the Facilities Department. He could be doing anything from leading a team through a project or branch refresh to assisting the facilities team with day-to-day-work requests.
"Lately, I’ve been leading refresh projects, which consist of, painting, removing, and laying new carpet. This provides a better experience for our customers when our buildings look clean and new. Right now, we are in the middle of the Anderson refresh, which is a little different than our previous refresh projects, but is going well," said Ronnie.
"All of the refreshes are different in their own way, but Anderson is much different for me personally because, I’m not only running my team, but I am simultaneously working with contractors to keep them on schedule. I enjoy doing these refreshes because it allows me to work with different staff members, and get to know them and their work better. It’s really cool to take two departments that don’t typically work together hand in hand, and just watch the teamwork win every time," he said.
Satisfaction in a Job Well Done
The work Ronnie does on a daily basis can range from coordinating the setup of a refresh project with vendors and branch staff, to physically laying carpet and painting.
"Also, I occasionally get to build things, or make furniture here at the library, which is a hobby of mine," said Ronnie. "The thing I like about my job the most is, being able to provide a safe enjoyable place for our customers and staff to work and learn. Also, working with my team makes the job very enjoyable. My team works really hard, and we accomplish A LOT!"
Keep up to date with all the Next Generation Library projects the Facilities Department is currently working on in our Building the Next Generation Library section.