Library director leaving county
When Jake Odland was in ninth grade, he had no idea what he wanted to do for a living. With Jefferson High School's annual career day fast-approaching, he decided to call Trish Conroy, a family friend who at that time was the director of the Douglas County Library.
Career day came and went and after spending that time with Conroy, who has since retired, Odland had discovered what he wanted to do with his life.
Odland, a 2001 Alexandria graduate, became a librarian, and for the past five years he has been in the same role as Conroy had been, serving as director of the Douglas County Library.
But now, Odland is off on a new adventure. June 1 will be his last day at the Douglas County Library. He will then be heading to San Antonio, Texas.
Odland will be one of the public services administrators for the library system in San Antonio. In that role he will supervise about one-third of the 30 library branches within the system.
Working in a larger library system was something Odland has wanted to do.
"A friend of mine who works in the university library system down there told me about the job," said Odland, who applied for and was chosen for the opening.
Looking back over the past five years, Odland said there have been many highlights in his time as the director, including increasing programming, adding new staff, updating and modernizing policies, getting new carpet and updating the website.
Although he is going to miss his family, friends and everyone at the library — including the patrons — he is looking forward to the new experience in San Antonio and the new opportunities the move will bring.
"I am going to miss the people the most," he said. "I have met a lot of new, really neat people."
Tessa Dutcher, president of the Douglas County Library Board, said that Odland came on board during a difficult time, as the director at that time, Karen Simmons, had died in a car crash.
"He handled the transition very well," said Dutcher. "There was some staff turnover and quite a few changes, but he kept everything moving forward."
Dutcher said Odland updated the computers and was instrumental in hosting e-readers classes for residents.
"He has really been there for the residents of Douglas County," said Dutcher. "We're going to miss him. He really helped us cope after the loss of Karen and then helped us move forward and improve the library even more."
Douglas County Commissioner Charlie Meyer, who sits on the library board, agreed and said that Odland will be greatly missed.
"He's done a great job and has got the library up-to-date," said Meyer. "I was a little shocked when I heard the news, but I don't blame him one bit. Jake is a really great guy."
Meyer said a timeline for when a director will be hired has yet to be determined.
Ultimately, the final decision is made by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, but the board's decision is based on the recommendation of the library board, which handles the interviewing process.