Read as Cindy Lombardo talks about her career as Deputy Director and COO of Cleveland Public Library.  Find her at www.cpl.org and on the Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.

What do you do for a living?

I’m the Deputy Director/Chief Operations Officer for the Cleveland Public Library in Cleveland, Ohio.

How would you describe what you do?

I oversee the day-to-day operations of the Library’s 28 branches, mobile services, the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled (OLBPD), and the downtown Main Library and Louis Stokes Wing (these two buildings constitute the Library’s “downtown campus.”)

What does your work entail?

The majority of my time is spent on human resources issues, dealing with problems, planning and implementing procedures to make the Library run more effectively and efficiently.  I work very closely with the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer and oversee initiatives for new programs and services.   I also represent the Library in the community and at the state and national levels.  I am also very involved in any new construction or renovation projects.  The following people report directly to me: Director of Public Services, Director of Human Resources, Director of Technical Services, Director of Property Management, Acting Director of Information Technology, and Acting Director of CLEVNET (the 38 member library consortium that was started by Cleveland Public Library).

What’s a typical work week like?

Meetings, meetings, and more meetings!  Sometimes back to back without a break.

How did you get started?

Like many people who come to the Library profession, my work background is eclectic and I had a variety of jobs in the for-profit world before taking my first job in a library as a children’s librarian.  Previous jobs included working for the phone company (phone repair, service representative, engineering clerk, marketing assistant, and curriculum designer for the training and development department), being a Training Manager for the manufacturing plant in New Jersey that produces the world’s supply of animal crackers, and a several year stint as an independent training and development consultant designing and delivering training for businesses and schools.  After two years of working solo I applied for, and was offered, the job of children’s librarian–to this day the most rewarding and fun job I’ve ever had.

What do you like about what you do?

Every day is different and every day brings unexpected problems or crises.  People generally don’t think about libraries as being stressful or fast-paced places in which to work,  but a large urban library in an economically challenged city that is operating with a reduced budget at a time of increasingly fast technological change is overflowing with challenges (and opportunities!).

What do you dislike?

I miss the opportunity for direct contact with the children I used to serve and am always looking for ways to “volunteer” for library programs or activities that involve working with kids.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

Only our Executive Director has a contract so I am a full time regular employee of the Library.  I believe I am compensated very fairly for what I do.  Our Library has a very generous benefit plan as well.

How much money do Library Directors  make? 

Salaries vary widely across the country and depend on the size of the library, number of staff, annual budget, etc.  Annual salary can range from as low as $40,000 for a small town single facility library with a small staff to more than $200,000 for a position as director of a large metropolitan system.

How much money did/do you make starting out?

When I started as a children’s librarian (in 1990) I believe I made $27,000.  At the time I accepted that position I took about a 50% cut in pay from my previous position as a Training Manager.  In my first director job (a single building library in a small town) I made $35,000 to start.  As the director of a small county library system with six locations I was making about $54,000 when I left to work for the Cleveland Public Library as Head of Main Library in 2008.  Since I joined the Cleveland Public Library I moved from Head of Main Library to Public Services Administrator to Acting Deputy Director to Deputy Director/Chief Operations Officer.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?

Again this depends on the size of the library and where it’s located.  Generally speaking, library directors should have a master’s degree in Library and Information Science.  In an academic library there may be a requirement of a second masters and/or doctoral degree as well.  I have an MLS, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership with a specialization in organizational training and development.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Juggling multiple projects, removing barriers to employee success, and getting people to work collaboratively in the service of our patrons.

What is most rewarding?

Hearing individual stories from our patrons about how the Library has helped them and having the opportunity to mentor talented staff so they can move up in the organization.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Recognize that the libraries of tomorrow may bear very little resemblance to today’s libraries.  Learn to be very comfortable with change and ambiguity.  Never, ever stop investing in your own personal growth and development.

How much time off do you get/take?

I get 22 days of paid vacation each year with the ability to carry some over from year to year if I don’t use it all in one calendar year.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

That I sit around and read all day at work. Nothing could be further from the truth!  (Although I readily admit to sitting around all day and reading on the weekend and on my days off!)

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

I’d like to retire within the next six years, travel, and have the time to read all the stacks of books that I’ve been collecting that I haven’t been able to get to yet.

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?

I’m very proud to work in a public library . . . one of the greatest democratic institutions in the world.  Everything libraries do contributes somehow to the greater good–that’s a claim very few other organizations can make.