Beyond Books

. November 12, 2019.
Jason Kucsma, wife Megan Plesea and twins Aaron and Audrey, 5. Photo Credit: Helena Teresa Photography
Jason Kucsma, wife Megan Plesea and twins Aaron and Audrey, 5. Photo Credit: Helena Teresa Photography

New director at Toledo Library

Hopefully you’re no stranger to the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. With renovations recently completed at Main Library, 20 locations throughout the area and new programming popping up every month, there’s a lot happening at the library these days, including a new director at the helm.

A new chapter

Jason Kucsma, a 45-year-old Ohio native, husband and father of twin kindergartners, is ready for his new role as director and fiscal officer. Kucsma joined the Library in 2015 as Deputy Director and had been acting director since the death of Cylde Scoles in February. He was appointed Director by the board this summer.

Toledo Lucas County Public Library Director, Jason Kucsma

Toledo Lucas County Public Library Director, Jason Kucsma

Kucsma went to college at Bowling Green, where he met his wife, Megan. Kucsma worked for a while on Clamor, a progressive politics and culture magazine, before moving to Arizona to get his master’s degree in Library and Information Science. While working in New York City with the New York Library Council and living in an 800-square foot apartment with his wife and six-month-old twins, the opportunity for a move back to Toledo opened up.

“It was a quick decision, really,” Kucsma said. “Toledo has a lot of great resources – the Metroparks, Toledo Museum of Art, Imagination Station, the Toledo Opera. There’s such a quality of life in our area and I think sometimes we don’t realize that until we’ve been away.”

Kucsma is passionate about what he does, noting the role libraries play in building strong communities.

“Essentially, literacy is at the core of what we do,” Kucsma said. “Not just reading, but digital literacy, financial literacy, health and wellness. We want to be active participants in the civic community. A guiding question for us is what does success look like in our area and how does the Library support that?”

All ages and stages

The Library has something to offer everyone. There are storytimes for toddlers and their caregivers. You can find fun STEM and STEAM programs for teens and tweens that teach them how to code. Adults can be part of a book club, spend time playing Euchre or let their creativity shine with different arts and crafts classes.

“We really want to help create well-rounded individuals that can succeed in the community,” Kucsma explained.

While you can find thousands of books on the shelves or check out digital copies on any of your devices, there are a lot of other needed resources you can find at the Library: 3D printers, audiobooks, DVDs, telescopes and tablets to check out.

In the summer, the Library connects thousands of kids to meals with the summer lunch program. “Unfortunately, for some kids in our region, this is the only meal they’ll get that day,” Kucsma said. “It’s a hard reality.”

The Homework Helper program assists students in grades K-8 with homework assignments, and the library also offers Tutor.com, online tutoring for older students. No appointment is necessary and you can log on for help from noon to midnight seven days a week.

A cool new program allows you to discover all that Toledo has to offer…simply with your library card. The new Discovery Pass enables access to area arts, cultural and recreational attractions for free or discounted rate. You can check out passes with your library card to enjoy Imagination Station, the Toledo Symphony, the Toledo Arts Commission and more. “It’s about giving people access,” Kucsma expounded.

It’s also about being adaptable. In this day when information is so readily available in so many ways, Kucsma explained the Library’s need to stay nimble, relevant, and responsive to community feedback. The Library is rooted in the tradition of reading and information, but it’s also about providing space for people to gather, collaborate and connect with one another.

Q&A

What’s your favorite activity to do with your family?
Library, Zoo, Metroparks, Imagination Station, Hens, Art Museum — you name it. We’re spoiled with a depth and breadth of things to do that make life great here in Toledo and Lucas County.

What’s your go-to activity when you finally have a few minutes to yourself?
Clean the house…seriously. When you have 5-year-old twins, there’s instant gratification there.

Name one thing you swore you’d never do as a parent, but totally do.
Eat the kids’ leftovers off their plates and call it “dinner.”

Describe your life in five words.
Always open to new opportunities.

What’s your favorite Toledo hangout?
We love spending “adult time” at Bellwether downtown and then heading over to Kengo for some of the best sushi we’ve ever had (anywhere, not just Toledo).

Describe Toledo in a sentence.
Toledo is rich in history and already realizing its vibrant future.