Excelsior Citizen

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Aaron B. Mason Selected as Mid-Continent Public Library Director

Last Updated on November 27, 2022 by S Jason Cole

Aaron B. Mason is ready to lead the Mid-Continent Public Library system

November 16, 2022 – During their November 15 meeting, Mid-Continent Public Library’s Board of Trustees approved a contract to hire Aaron B. Mason as the system’s new Library Director and CEO. Beginning January 17, 2023, Mason will step into MCPL’s head leadership role, overseeing the Library’s 33 branches across Jackson, Clay, and Platte Counties, and the nearly 850,000 residents they serve. Mason moves to MCPL from Cleveland Public Library, where he spent nearly two decades of his career, most recently holding the role of Senior Director of Outreach and Programming Services. “Mr. Mason is an esteemed librarian with tremendous leadership and public service experience that will be a valued asset to Mid-Continent Public Library,” said Ronald Thiewes, MCPL Board President. “We’re thrilled to have Aaron join the Library and very much look forward to him as our new Director and CEO.” 

Speaking with the Excelsior Citizen, Mason said he highly values the access to information that libraries such as the one in Excelsior Springs provide. “Libraries are instrumental in lessening the disparity between resources available to people in rural versus urban areas,” he said. Most of the time, he explained, people think of this as access to the internet or computers, but there are numerous services that the library can offer such as legal research, tax services, or even nutritional services that are oftentimes overlooked. This is all in addition to the specialized programming that each branch can offer its patrons. On a personal level, he said rural libraries are important to him because he feels like the introduction of new and different ideas through library resources helps foster growth and productivity in those communities.

In his previous position, Mason worked to expand the reach of Cleveland Public Library’s services beyond its 27 branches through innovative initiatives and partnerships. During his tenure with the organization, he held a variety of roles—from assisting customers as a branch staff member and business reference librarian, to cataloging materials purchased by the library, to overseeing the entire system’s programming and outreach efforts. In all his work, Mason has been particularly passionate about connecting residents to the arts and ensuring equitable access to critical resources and services. 

“Throughout my career, my mission has been to remove roadblocks and support the public’s right to shape the library experience to their interests. With the help of dedicated librarians, we have built an environment where people of all ages can dream, create, and grow. Continuing this work in support of Mid-Continent Public Library is a dream come true,” said Mason. “I am honored to have the opportunity to join this great organization, and I look forward to serving the community and furthering MCPL’s mission of ‘expanding access to innovation, information, ideas, and inspiration!’” 

Mason’s career as a librarian has included innumerable accomplishments that benefited library customers and local residents. A few of his more notable achievements include: 

  • Completed construction of four “neighborhood justice hubs” that offer criminal and civil legal services, telehealth support, and virtual access to the Cleveland Housing Court. The project and the library’s framing of legal services were instrumental in removing legal obstacles that hinder people’s ability to live fulfilling and productive lives. 
  • Developed curriculum and secured funding for 16 learning centers in Cleveland. Since 2012, the centers have expanded their offerings to include K–3 reading instruction, after-school tutoring and food programs, music and therapy, and college preparedness classes. 
  • Published the Neighborhood Voices Anthology. Neighborhood Voices was a city-wide creative writing project created in response to the COVID stay-at-home order of 2020. The project was designed to engage local writers, allowing residents to virtually connect with neighbors, share stories of their community, and write about what makes their neighborhood unique. 
  • Developed key partnerships with cultural, educational, and governmental institutions that increased customer access to STEM programming, art instruction, and legal services. 
  • Between the years of 2012–2019, received over $2 million dollars in grant funding in support of Cleveland Public Library programming. 
  • Participated in numerous construction and renovation projects that increased the amount of collaborative workspace at the Cleveland Public Library’s downtown campus and 27 neighborhood branches. 

“On behalf of the MCPL leadership team and staff, I am delighted to welcome Aaron to Mid-Continent Public Library,” said Susan Wray, MCPL Assistant Library Director, and Chief Operating Officer. “His experience and knowledge will be a great complement to the organization, and I look forward to working with him.” Wray has been serving as MCPL’s Acting Library Director since Director Steven Potter retired in June of this year. Following his departure, the Library’s Board of Trustees began their four-month, nationwide search for a new director, resulting in the selection of Mason. 

Mason earned his Master of Library and Information Science from Kent State University and his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. Outside of the office, he is a member of the American Library Association and Public Library Association. 

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