When asking new Revere Library Director Kevin Sheehan what his favorite book is at the moment, the Classics scholar could cite any type of Greek philosophy or Roman Empire chronicler, but at this stage in his life, that favorite book is about how to make a toddler sleep through the night.
“Normally, if someone asked me that question, I would have a lot of favorite books to talk about, but because I have a 9-month-old now, my favorite book is ‘How to Solve Your Babies Sleep Problems,’” said Sheehan lightheartedly during an interview this week.
Sheehan, 41, took the reins as Library Director last week and brings an added jolt of youth and stability to an institution that has had a few setbacks over the last several years.
The Revere Public Library (RPL) was rocked when its previous director, Robert Rice, was charged with criminal conduct and eventually pleaded guilty to several counts of fraud in 2011 and granted $230,000 in cash restitution to the RPL.
In the interim, the steady hand of Interim Director Mark Ferrante steadied the ship and gave the institution a grounded base. However, Ferrante was only there on an interim basis and was part-time for quite a while – balancing full-time job with helping out at the library. So, there still wasn’t a full-time director at the helm, and that has been the case for a number of years.
Mostly, things were left that way because there were high hopes for merging the RPL with the Winthrop Public Library – a regionalization measure applauded by the State Legislative Delegation and one for which many felt would be a natural fit.
Yet, it wasn’t.
Ferrante and Library Trustee Frank Schettino told the Journal that things were just too complicated to merge the two entities together. So, earlier this year, the RPL put out a notice to hire its own separate director – as did Winthrop.
“We just felt it wasn’t in the best interest of the patrons of the Revere Library,” Ferrante said. “The cities are close together, but the population of Revere is such that we felt Revere needed a full-time director and not a part-time director. That decision came about the beginning of the year. That’s when we decided to go out and search for our own director.”
Sheehan lives in Billerica and is originally from Chicopee, but most recently worked in the library system at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. He worked in four three of the five specialized libraries at the elite institution.
However, he got his love of libraries as a young person.
“When I was little, it was the first card I could get that said I was somebody,” he said. “I used the library a lot as a kid, but when I was in middle school I began to go to the library more frequently for research papers…Being surrounded by books is just an energizing feeling.”
After high school, he attended Assumption College in Worcester and then spent more than four years teaching English near Kobe, Japan – a skill he might capitalize on with Revere’s Tsukidate Cultural Exchange.
He returned after many years abroad to work at MIT and to be closer to home. During that time at MIT, he earned his Master’s of Library Science from Southern Connecticut State University.
Sheehan said he intends to continue bulking up the RPL’s consortium agreements and promoting the many electronic materials now available from the NOBLE consortium – including e-books.
“The new things about libraries are the consortium agreements,” he said. “No library can possibly buy every book that a patron wants to read, so it only makes sense to partner up with other libraries in the area and share resources. Here in Revere we can get materials from Everett, Malden, Dracut and even Merrimack College – to name a few. And it’s all at a small cost or even no cost – unless you’re late bringing it back.”
At the moment, though, Sheehan is settling in – getting to know the staff and getting acquainted with the library’s programs. One of his short-term goals, however, is to get a defibrillator stationed in the library. Already, the Trustees have given him the green light for that expenditure.
“Right now, I know that I don’t know,” said Sheehan. “I’m happy to be here, but I’m not from Revere and I need to learn about the community and our patrons. That’s what I’ll be doing the rest of the summer.”
Ferrante noted that there were no Revere residents that applied for the position, so Sheehan will need to get a waiver from the City Council in the very near future. It is expected to be granted without a problem.
Sheehan is married to his wife, Cheryl, and has one young son, Thomas.
Trustees Frank Schettino and Mark Ferrante officially welcome new Revere Library Director Kevin Sheehan to the position this week. After many years without a permanent director, Sheehan filled that void starting last week.