WAYNE, NJ - Newly hired Director of the Wayne Public Library, Ricardo Pino has had an interesting start in his new position. On his first day of work leading the library, the doors were closed and no one was allowed in.
One might call this a baptism of fire, but Pino is used to rising to new challenges.
Born and raised in the Bronx to Ecuadorian parents, and speaking mostly Spanish, Pino never dreamed of working in Libraries as a child. The foundation for this passion was laid down when he was young, but it wasn’t discovered until adulthood.
After graduation from Bowdoin College in Maine with a double major of History and Spanish Literature, Pino began to wander somewhat rudderless. He bounced from state-to-state and job-to-job searching for what he wanted to do with his life.
“I had a very restless mind,” he told TAPinto Wayne in an interview.
After years of wandering, his family drew him back to New York. He eventually found a long-term job with a recruiting firm based in Parsippany and settled in New Jersey.
His haphazard career path may not have been pointing him directly to his passion, but at each position, Pino gained valuable experience. “I believe that I learned something in every one of my jobs that I regularly apply as a Library Director. Whether that is evaluating talent, or using technology or networking; life taught me how.”
The transition from working for a recruiting firm to becoming a librarian was proceeded by a lot of soul searching. “I was questioning my overall satisfaction with my work,” he said. He worked nearly ten years as a recruiter and discovered that this was not what he wanted to do.
“When was the last time I was happy,” he asked himself constantly.
The search for this answer brought him back to his younger years. “I remember thinking that a lot of the happiest times I had in my childhood were at the library,” he said. “In some ways the library was somewhat of a refuge for me, growing up in the Bronx.”
“But the last time I could remember losing myself in something, was my Junior Year when I studied in Ecuador,” he said. A history course required that Pino go to the national archives, and there Pino discovered something he loved. “I remember being so happy pulling documents from the 1700s and the 1800s,” he said with joy in his tone at the recollection. “I was having a blast.”
It was this memory that helped him decide the next course of his life. Pino registered at Rutgers, where he earned his master’s degree in Library and Information Science. His initial goal was to get a job as an archivist, but a small push from an acquaintance set him on his path to Wayne.
A friend told Pino that archivist work was difficult to find and suggested he work in a library to gain experience. He began working at the Passaic Public Library while still in college and ended up working there for years after he earned his master’s degree.
This is where he discovered his true passion. “I worked in every single department during my years in Passaic so that I could learn how everything worked,” he said.
Eventually Pino was promoted to manage the Reid Branch of the Passaic Public Library. It was a very proud moment for him, but bigger things were on the horizon.
After seven years in Passaic, Pino took a job as Director of the West Milford Public Library in 2015. “It was my first leap up as Director,” he said proudly.
During the five years he worked there, Pino’s biggest challenge was overseeing the construction of their new library building. “This was probably the biggest public building project in the town’s history and the challenge appealed to me,” he said.
“West Milford was a great place to work, but Wayne was a place that I was drawn too,” he said. “The Wayne Public Library is a leader in our region by virtue of its size, by virtue of its resources and what it has done historically,” he said. “ And, I was ready for a new challenge.”
He applied for the open position and went through a long interview process with the Wayne Public Library Board of Trustees who were determined to take their time and find the right person.
Roberta Loniewski is the President of the Library Board of Trustees. She is thrilled with their choice of Pino. “Ricardo has a warm personality and feels very strongly that our community outreach has to continue to grow,” she said. “He has very strong skills in technology and I feel that he will bring those skills to our library to support our strategic plan for the future.”
Wayne Town Councilwoman Jill Sasso, who is the Council Liaison to the Library, was sympathetic to Pino’s first day on the job.
“Through great difficulties, comes amazing opportunities to reinvent ourselves. We’re seeing this at the library,” she said at the last Wayne Town Council Meeting. “Ricardo has just immersed himself in everything to do with the library and is working with the amazing team there. They are setting up all sorts of virtual programs for Moms who are running out of things to do with their children. They have youth, adult and young adult programs coming online soon.”
Sasso then thanked Doreeen Shoba for her leadership. Shoba has been the interim library Director until Pino was hired. “Doreen has really done an amazing job for us over this last year,” she said with admiration.
Pino also showed gratitude for Shoba. “I am so grateful to Doreen for her leadership,” said Pino. “She led the library through some difficult times this past year, and she did it with dignity and grace.”
The new library Director says he is motivated by challenge. Well, he must be a very motivated man as he is facing the biggest challenge in his career: Keeping the library relevant and connected in the middle of a global pandemic.
“Never in my career had I expected to assume the leadership of a library while it was closed to the public and most of our country was sheltering in place,” he said. “This is not the way we are used to interacting with each other, or how libraries have traditionally provided service.
“We have been forced to pivot very quickly,” he said.
Under Pino’s leadership, the staff at the library has pivoted and is now offering a variety of services through a variety of technologies:
- Online readings
- Virtual book club meetings
- Crafts being led through social media
- Three separate platforms are being used to disseminate ebooks, audiobooks, music, movies, graphic novels, digital magazines and more.
The big project that Pino is working on now is a regular interactive program on Fridays. He’s been thinking of calling it Fun Fridays, but the name has not been set.
With his drive and proven history, Pino is confident that Fridays will be fun, his new community will be served, and the Wayne Public Library will remain as a leader in the region.
Know a story we should share with readers? Email the publisher, Ferris and tell him about it.