November 16, 2022
During their November 15 meeting, Mid-Continent Public Library’s Board of Trustees approved a contract to hire Aaron B. Mason as the system’s new Library Director and CEO. Beginning January 17, 2023, Mason will step into MCPL’s head leadership role, overseeing the Library’s 33 branches across Jackson, Clay, and Platte Counties, and the nearly 850,000 residents they serve. Mason moves to MCPL from Cleveland Public Library, where he spent nearly two decades of his career, most recently holding the role of Senior Director of Outreach and Programming Services.
“Mr. Mason is an esteemed librarian with tremendous leadership and public service experience that will be a valued asset to Mid-Continent Public Library,” said Ronald Thiewes, MCPL Board President. “We’re thrilled to have Aaron join the Library and very much look forward to him as our new Director and CEO.”
In his previous position, Mason worked to expand the reach of Cleveland Public Library’s services beyond its 27 branches through innovative initiatives and partnerships. During his tenure with the organization, he held a variety of roles—from assisting customers as a branch staff member and business reference librarian, to cataloging materials purchased by the library, to overseeing the entire system’s programming and outreach efforts. In all his work, Mason has been particularly passionate about connecting residents to the arts and ensuring equitable access to critical resources and services.
“Throughout my career, my mission has been to remove roadblocks and support the public’s right to shape the library experience to their interests. With the help of dedicated librarians, we have built an environment where people of all ages can dream, create, and grow. Continuing this work in support of Mid-Continent Public Library is a dream come true,” said Mason. “I am honored to have the opportunity to join this great organization, and I look forward to serving the community and furthering MCPL’s mission of ‘expanding access to innovation, information, ideas, and inspiration!’”
Mason earned his Master of Library and Information Science from Kent State University and his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. Outside of the office, he is a member of the American Library Association and Public Library Association.
Q & A with Aaron:
What are you currently reading?
I usually read nonfiction but have recently taken an interest in YA fiction. Like many people I read “buffet style” (more than one book at a time). Here is my current reading list:
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- Firekeepers Daughter by Angeline Boulley
- The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants by Aristid Lindenmayer and Przemysław Prusinkiewicz
What is your favorite Library service?
Without question, storytime. For many children, it’s their first introduction to visual arts, music, and, most importantly, the written word. The spark of curiosity is born in storytime and the future of libraries is bleak if we lose sight of its significance.
What are you most excited for as the new Director of MCPL?
I accepted this position because my first-hand experience in the Kansas City metro area was overwhelmingly positive. I was energized by MCPL's commitment to our profession's core beliefs and amazed by all that has been accomplished.
What are you most excited for as a new resident of the KC metro?
Two peculiar dogs will accompany me on my trip to Missouri: Marny and Knuckles. Knuckles is terrified of the outdoors, and Marny is like a rocket without a guidance system. Off-leash, she runs faster than her brain can compute, and she easily gets lost. It breaks my heart to see her restrained but living in an urban environment leaves me no choice. I’m excited to find an open space where she can run herself ragged; there appear to be many from what I can see.
How do you spend time outside of work?
I love to make art. As a kid, I played the violin and bass but eventually shifted to the visual arts. I focused on 2D and installation work in the past, mainly in a public setting. In fact, one of my pieces still stands in the center of Cleveland; see if you can find it. However, in 2016 I became obsessed with digital animation and haven’t looked back. For the past 2-3 years, my focus has been on procedural/code-based real-time animations that rely on various tools such as Touchdesigner, Houdini, and Machine Learning models.
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