New Rogers Free Library director starting Feb. 1

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 1/28/22

After whittling 16 candidates down to eight, and then two, Dawn Jenkin emerged as the library's search committee’s top choice.

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New Rogers Free Library director starting Feb. 1

Posted

For the second time in a few short years, a committee of three Trustees, one of the co-Interim Directors and a member of the Bristol community was empaneled in November to conduct a national search for a new Director of the Rogers Free Library.

After whittling 16 candidates down to eight, and then two, Dawn Jenkin emerged as the committee’s top choice.

Happily, Jenkin was equally impressed by the professional opportunity offered to her here in Bristol.

“Dawn comes to us with a lot of experience,” said search committee chairman Ruth Souto. “We saw her as one of the top candidates right away. She has a full grasp of what is needed to take Rogers Free Library to the next level.”

Coming to Bristol from New Jersey via Amsterdam and Jackson, Wyo., Jenkin has always considered the Atlantic coast her first home. Raised in New Jersey and New York, that’s where she spent much of her career, beginning in the early 1990s. Several years ago she had the opportunity to achieve a longtime dream of living and working internationally, in her ancestral home of The Netherlands, which she did twice — punctuated by an assignment in Jackson, Wyo. at a library that was undergoing some organizational challenges.

“It was an amazing staff and community, but not a long term fit,” said Jenkin.

She returned to Amsterdam for a term that was unexpectedly extended by the COVID-19 international travel restrictions. As soon as she was able, she returned to the U.S. to look for her next professional opportunity.

“Finding Bristol was amazing serendipity,” she said, adding that she’s particularly excited to return to work in a public library.

“The tradition and heritage of the American public library is unique and I’m passionate about that,” she said. “I am very excited to bring my skills and perspective to the administration of the Rogers Free Library. I am inspired by the work of our current staff and Library Board in service of this fully engaged, culturally-rich community.”

Rogers Free Library Board of Trustees Chairman Jackie Katz is excited and grateful, both for the results of the search effort and the efforts of the library staff during the process, a staff she credits with maintaining the highest level of service for library patrons through the pandemic, as well as leadership and policy changes. She specifically thanked Nancy Kellner and Charlotte Burnham, who have stepped into the interim leadership role twice in the past two years.

Jenkin moves to Bristol on Saturday and will begin her new job Tuesday, Feb. 1. Her priority is, as it always has been when stepping into a new library post, to assess five foundational elements: facility, funding, human resources, services, and the collection. She’s particularly mindful of the human resources element, and ensuring the staff is fully supported through this organizational change.

Personally, Jenkin’s interests include photography, history, architectural preservation and food — interests which should find plenty of outlets here in Rhode Island.

“I enthusiastically invite members of the community to contact me with questions, concerns, recommendations and perspective with regard to the library and its integral role in serving the full demographic of Bristol’s residents,” said Jenkin. “Together, we will build upon the Rogers Free Library’s solid foundation and elevate its role as the informational and cultural hub of the community.”

“Dawn is a dynamic person and will be great for our community,” said Souto. “We have a great library here, with terrific, dedicated staff. We just needed an experienced, energetic leader who could take what we have and propel our library into the future. I believe we found that in Dawn.”

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