By Courtney Widli
It was a combined passion for books, reading and the Rutland community that led Randal Smathers to a career in library and information services. Recently named the director of the Rutland Free Library, the Rutland resident is looking to expand upon the library’s already diverse community offerings.
“I love working with people, and being out in the community is what I enjoy most about my work,” he said. “I learned a lot from the previous director, and was comfortable and prepared for this new position.”
With more than four years of service to the Rutland City library under his belt, Smathers previously functioned as the location’s assistant director. In 2015, he earned his Master of Library and Information Science degree, better preparing him for a future in the field.
In his new role, Smathers will oversee all library operations, serving as the public face of the nonprofit organization and reporting directly to the Rutland Free Library Board of Trustees. His daily responsibilities include event planning, organizing marketing and communications needs, personnel scheduling, and budget management.
“I do a little of everything,” said Smathers, ending his sentence with a chuckle, while reminiscing on one of his first days on the job. “A staff member had called out sick, so I grabbed the mop and scrubbed the floors.”
Throughout his time with the library, Smathers has helped to bring hundreds of new people through the doors, while raising necessary funds for the organization with his work on the bi-annual fundraiser, Library Mini Golf. He also spearheaded efforts to provide and maintain high-quality internet and Wi-Fi throughout the library as technology demands continue to rise.
“Randal brings a certain level of enthusiasm and leadership to the position,” said Rutland Free Library Board of Trustees President Heather Cooper, speaking to Smathers’ vast knowledge and understanding of all that the library has to offer the community. “He eagerly stepped up in a time of transition and was a natural fit.”
Smathers’ passion for hitting the books translates directly into his personal life. An active bookworm, he sets a personal goal to read 104 books each year from cover to cover, naming authors such as Raymond Chandler and Neil Gaiman as some of his top choices.
When not surrounded by detective novels and science fiction series, his hobbies include cooking, hockey, spending time with his family and taking in all that the Vermont surroundings have to offer.
“I love Vermont, and I have a passion for serving the Rutland community,” said Smathers, who originally hails from western Canada, “I hope to be here for a long time.”