Jean Hodges joined ALA October 2 as director of the Communications, Marketing, and Media Relations Office. She comes from Gannett, a media company that owns USA Today and hundreds of news publications and digital sites throughout the country. At Gannett, she led digital transformation, newsroom retention, and internal communications for the news division.
She answered our 11 Questions to introduce herself to ALA members.
Coffee, tea, other?
Team Tea all the way. Mostly English Breakfast or Earl Grey, although green tea is a lovely alternative.
What’s the first website or app you check in the morning?
I check notifications first, but then email is the first app for a quick scan of news (I subscribe to many email newsletters) and work. Most importantly, my meditation app is next before I get out of bed. Also, I think meditation should be first, but I haven’t managed to make the change yet.
Best career advice you’ve ever received?
Be a lifelong learner, even though learning something new sometimes feels uncomfortable. And be kind. Every interaction is a chance to help, listen, and learn.
What drew you to librarianship and ALA?
When I was little, I remember walking to the library with my mom, sister, and brother. I was always so excited to get to the library, choose the books we would check out, and then go home and read. Libraries felt magical to me. All those books: How could I read them all? I’m still asking myself that question. ALA offers me the opportunity to serve libraries at such an important time in our country’s history. I am eager to dig in.
Most distinctive aspect of your personal office?
I guess the fact that my office is packed with books isn’t distinctive, so I would say my sweet and sassy dog, Ziggy, who keeps me company all day.
Doom scrolling on social media. But please don’t tell anyone.
In high school I worked at a fancy restaurant as a bus person. Once, a man told me I would make a great waitress someday, and his wife said, “Maybe she doesn’t want to be a waitress.” This was a revelation to the man, who asked what I did want to do with my life. At the time, I wanted to be a lawyer. I think I got an extra tip from that guy.
What do you hope to bring to ALA and members?
My passion for libraries, librarians, the First Amendment, and the freedoms therein. More specifically, I want to help us tell the stories of the good work libraries do in their communities, and I want to help people in those communities remember why they love libraries.
If you had to choose any other profession, what would it be and why?
Maybe a professor because I love to help others learn, whether through writing, presenting new information, or researching.
Book(s) you’re reading?
Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book. And Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by Patrick Radden Keefe. Both are amazing, and I might need to read something a little lighter next.
Tool used for keeping your life organized?
Outlook Calendar and the Microsoft To Do app. Love them both!