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Between the Lines: April Member Spotlight

Between the Lines: Member Spotlight, TLA News

Dennis Quinn

Director of Library Services

Cozby Library and Community Commons (City of Coppell, TX)



What inspired you to become a librarian?
Seeing the library as a playground for the mind, and a hub of connection, and the great things that can come from both. I don’t think I fully realized that until college. My interests were pretty narrow growing up…I was all-in on music, which generally didn’t get much coverage in my school and city libraries outside of biographies of musicians. So the Music Library at UNT (the University of North Texas) was an absolute game-changer for me. In the huge collection of scores and recordings, I discovered works, composers, styles and history that I probably would never have found otherwise, and I spent countless hours digging around with others who were there for the same reason. Beyond the enjoyment of studying the subject itself, it really impressed upon me how having access to a landscape where you can explore what you’re passionate about, and having kindred spirits to explore it with, can color your whole outlook on learning and even on life in general.

What is an innovative practice at your library that you’d like to share with others?
I’m really proud of the extent to which the Cozby Library team has taken up the charge of involving community members in the library ecosystem, and showcasing their knowledge, talents, and stories. We have community members both “onstage” and “backstage” all over the place, whether they’re presenting a session on zero waste living, or leading a bilingual storytime, or speaking on a Meet Your Neighbor panel, or singing at an open mic night, or helping us design and shape some part of the collection, or holding a booth at CozbyCon, or exhibiting their art throughout the building, or having the storybook they designed and created displayed in the Storybook Walk at our town plaza. For us, putting the community on display is a way to bring neighbors together from different walks of life to learn from and about each other. It’s a big part of how we help strengthen the community, and it permeates just about everything we do.

If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
I feel a sort of kinship to Nick Offerman, with my background in the performing arts, and my draw toward nature and working with my hands. I’ve also been a huge fan of Amanda Palmer since the early 2000s, and later came to really appreciate the storytelling wizardry of Neil Gaiman. I think the three of them would get along really well (if this Twitter exchange is any indication), and I probably wouldn’t want the evening to end.

What are you reading right now?
Professionally, it’s Thinking in Bets, by Annie Duke. But personally, I’m enjoying getting back in touch with the poetry of Emily Dickinson. My daughter chose her as a topic for a school project, so I’m getting to share a lot of my old favorites with her, and we get to discover some new favorites together as well.

What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience?
The proclamation at Council II of the 2017 Conference, honoring Pat Smith for her decades of service as Executive Director for TLA. It was awesome to see the entire association stand up as one to recognize and appreciate someone who played such a huge part in shaping TLA into what it is today.