New Branch Manager at Morro Bay Public Library
by Jack McCurdy
Dani Porter, an experienced librarian who has developed expertise in marketing and has used it effectively in building support for public libraries she has worked for in Santa Ana and Las Vegas, has been appointed branch manager of the Morro Bay Library, succeeding Jude Sanner Long, who retired in December after nearly 35 years as assistant and branch manager of the library.
Porter will assume her duties at the Morro Bay Library on April 8. Long leaves on April 2 after serving part-time since December while her replacement was being sought.
Meantime, negotiations between the city of Morro Bay, which was given the new library building by the Morro Bay Friends of the Library in 1985 after the Friends built it, and the county, which operates the library, are continuing after the Morro Bay City Council on February 22 agreed to relinquish a large part of the building for use for library services, including likely space for a larger children's library area. Plans are for the Program Room, which the city for many years has rented to outside organizations for meetings, to be converted to library uses are being developed by the county.
The negotiations are primarily over when the county will gain access to the Program Room. Another prime focus of the negotiations is said to be extension of the lease from the city to the county for use of the building by the time the present lease expires on July 8.
Porter earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from California State University at Long Beach and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Louisiana State University and Agricultural (cq) and Mechanical College in 1998.
She has been research and stewardship manager for the San Diego Zoo for four years until now. Previously, she was adult services librarian for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, director of development for university libraries at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, community relations coordinator for the Orange County Public Library, and community projects librarian for Iberia Parish Libraries in Louisiana.
This is from an article in the Library Journal in 2003 about Porter:
"It is great when you have a great product to sell," says Dani Porter, who five years ago chose to put her marketing skills—once used to promote some of the country's major casinos—behind libraries. In charge of recruiting gifts over $10,000 for the University of Nevada–Las Vegas libraries since last fall, she clearly loves her new product. "The $58 million, state-of-the-art facility is Nevada's most expensive public building, but it is also the largest," Porter says. "They made it 2,000 square feet larger than the Thomas & Mack Center for special events, because they wanted the largest building to be academic in nature."
Porter shows the same enthusiasm when discussing her previous job, as community relations coordinator for Orange County Public Library in Santa Ana, CA. "We had so many innovative programs in the number two media market in the country, it was an easy sell," she says. While there she spread the word about installation of 400 PCs in the branches and promoted Read Orange County. "People would say to me, 'I didn't know I could get that at the library,'" Porter says. Those new converts pushed circulation over the six million mark the year before she left for Nevada.
Whether looking for large gifts, promoting innovative programs, or luring people to casinos, Porter says, "It's all about relationships." The difference is that "working with libraries seems important, and there is never a dull moment." The choice to apply her already honed PR talents to libraries may seem obvious in retrospect, but at the time she chose to go to library school, she didn't even know such jobs existed. "I was paired with Beth Paskoff at Louisiana State University, a very insightful advisor, and she said to me, 'You have so much to offer from your previous experience.'" Then she admits to a bit of luck in the job market. "These are not like the standard positions," she says.
Though she believes in the power of marketing almost as much as the importance of libraries, she knows not all libraries have the resources for a full-time promoter. "If there is a way, combine people with different strengths, put together 10 to 20 hours per week, run a library column in the local paper," she advises. "You would be surprised at what people pay attention to."
A public function to welcome Porter to Morro Bay and introduce her to residents is being planned by the Morro Bay Friends of the Library, the library's community support group.
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