Check It Out!

Episode hosted by: Jim Hills

A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds.

Episode 31: Behind the business and communications of Sno-Isle Libraries

Communications Director Ken Harvey (left) and Administrative Services Director Gary Sitzman.

First thoughts of a library likely evoke mental images of librarians and shelves full of books.

This episode of “Check It Out!” looks at two positions that might not spring to mind when imagining libraries, but play critical roles in managing the business aspects and communications needs of a large public agency

Gary Sitzman is Administrative Services Director and Communications Director Ken Harvey both sit on the leadership team for Sno-Isle Libraries. Each of them has extensive professional experiences outside of public libraries and bring those skills to the opportunities to serve communities and customers.

Together, they share their thoughts on leadership, tips on success in the business world and what’s next for public libraries.

Sitzman joined the library district five years ago following a career primarily in the wood-fiber products industry. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the avowed “cheesehead” who unabashedly wears a Packers jersey during the football season, Sitzman started at Scott Paper in Wisconsin. He moved to Snohomish County and a position at the former Scott Paper mill in Everett. His career came full circle when he helped oversee the closure of that plant after it transitioned to Kimberly-Clark ownership.

Harvey came to Sno-Isle Libraries in 2011 following stints at Community Transit and Sound Transit. With additional prior experience in TV, radio and emergency management, Harvey can look through many lenses at the needs and ways to communicate library district information to customers as well as non-customers.

Sitzman shares that the lessons learned about adapting as a child growing in a military family that was often on the move have helped him in the business world. “I think there is an element of (adaptability) in leadership,” Sitzman says.  “Leaders have a sense of where they want to go and some enthusiasm for how to get there, but also not being afraid to step out and be adaptable to the outcomes.”

Harvey agrees that growing up with a family with military service brings such benefits along with a sense of something greater than the individual and sense of service.

Away from the job, the pair say that it’s important to have a way to leave the pressures of the day behind.

For Sitzman, that includes mountain biking at the moment and Harvey says he enjoys a variety of activities including relearning to play the viola and dabbling in arts and crafts projects.

As for the future of where they work, both say libraries always have and will continue to evolve to serve customers.

“(Some) ask do we need brick-and-mortar libraries anymore?” Sitzman says “That’s a myopic view for what a library brings to a community.”

Harvey says the definition is continuing to transform. “The physical space is an important gathering place and giving access to materials, while at the same time, libraries are also serving outside those four walls.”

Episode length: 55:18


Episode Hosts

Jim Hills Jim Hills is the library district’s Assistant Communications Director, Communications & Marketing. Jim is a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.

Episode Sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.