You’d never know that Paul Stonebridge is still getting his feet wet as he seems such a natural fit for what he does and the community around him. This public employee isn’t only new to his job – Stonebridge is new to the entire state of Washington. He relocated from Florida last November to take the helm of Puyallup’s South Hill Library, one of the Pierce County Library System’s 20 branches.
When asked what his job entails, he replied, “I manage the day-to-day operations of South Hill Branch Library. This includes leading a staff of 27, developing programs for the public, overseeing the library’s materials collection and – of course – making sure that library visitors leave better off than when they entered.”
The longer we spoke with him, that dedication to helping others became more and more evident.
Born in Denver, Colorado, this self-described “military brat” has travelled all over the world and has lived all over the US, including Hawaii. Stonebridge even earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.
So why was a job with the Pierce County Library System so alluring that Paul Stonebridge was eager to move more than 3,000 miles from one side of the country to the other?
Says Stonebridge about what attracted him to Pierce County Library System in the first place, “PCLS is a forward-thinking organization that strives to constantly better itself for the benefit of the communities it serves. That is something I want to be a part of.”
Stonebridge’s fiancee, Meghan, and cocker spaniel, Thor, are pleased with his decision and all three co-habitate in South Hill, just minutes away from the library. “I am still learning the area,” shares Stonebridge. “But I have found the people here to be friendly and welcoming.”
Being an actual resident of South Hill helps Stonebridge bond with his library patrons. He also really enjoys reaching out to the local community.
“I love visiting local civic and educational groups and organizations, whether to drop off promotional materials or present about library services or special topics of interest,” shares Stonebridge. “Speaking directly to people in a way that is meaningful to them makes the most impact in support of libraries.”
The easy way in which he communicates with every person he meets at the library comes naturally to Stonebridge, and this bonding with Pierce County residents is one of the reasons that Stonebridge is so passionate about what he does. He’s especially passionate about being able to contribute to the community through his work in the public sector.
“I always love it when someone comes to me for help with a resume, cover letter, or job applications and then returns later to tell me about the job they were able to get because of the library’s help. Seeing a tangible improvement, both psychological and economic, in someone’s life is quite rewarding,” Stonebridge explains.
Helping people is what attracted him to public service. In fact, Stonebridge’s favorite part of working as a public librarian is, “knowing I have helped someone better their life in some way.”
Stonebridge knows precisely how much public libraries can help the residents of the community. He wants people to know that apart from vast and varied print, electronic (e-books), and audio books, music, and DVD collections, South Hill Library offers innovative and exciting programs and services to the South Hill community such as computer classes for seniors, community meeting rooms, the ability to book a librarian for one-on-one help with research, live storytelling for kids, early literacy programs, Lego workshops, book clubs, senior social clubs and even an upcoming series of lectures on traveling the world – led by none other than the globetrotting Stonebridge himself.
It could be that his world travels have contributed to Stonebridge’s cheery disposition. After all, when asked to describe himself in one sentence, he says, “I believe the greatest breadth of experience makes the happiest person.” It does seem that Stonebridge has had some interesting experiences indeed. Perhaps making connections with people from different cultures is also the foundation for his generosity of spirit.
Giving is such an inherent part of Stonebridge’s character that not only does he work as a public employee, he hopes to be remembered not for who he is, but rather for the difference he makes in people’s lives.
The South Hill Library is located at 15420 Meridian E, Puyallup, WA, 98375. Call 253-548-3303 or visit the Pierce County Library System’s website for more information.
This article is one of a cross-platform series about the contributions of public employees to our community with articles also on ThurstonTalk and LewisTalk. The series is sponsored by WSECU, in part to support Public Service Recognition Week, which runs May 7 – 13, 2017.