After a comprehensive search process last spring, the Gloria Coles Flint Public Library Board of Trustees offered Taliah Abdullah the position of executive director, which she accepted and officially began in late July.
Coming to Flint from the Arapahoe Library District in Englewood, CO, Abdullah has worked in academic, school and public libraries in multiple states, and has served in management positions for 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s in Library and Information Science, and is also working toward her PhD in Information Science.
Known as a passionate promoter of community-based library programming, Abdullah has been described as a champion and leader for equity, diversity and inclusion in life, for libraries, and for her team.
“When I visited Gloria Coles Flint Public Library, I saw a bustling Children’s Room. I met friendly, helpful staff members. The space is beautiful and it offers so many ways to connect with existing and new patrons,” Abdullah recently stated. “The strategic priorities of the Library and its focus on community mesh perfectly with who I am and what brings me joy.”
MCM wanted to know a bit more about this intriguing new community member, so we asked her seven questions … check out her answers!
- What was your very first job?
My first (unpaid) job was on a children’s farm/petting zoo called Prairie Farm in Champaign, IL. It was part of the park district that was free to the public, where families came to see chickens, goats, rabbits, pigs and other animals. I was responsible for feeding animals, cleaning, and helping with summer camp groups. This was a dream experience, especially the time spent with the horses, as I had planned to be a large animal veterinarian. My first paid position was as a cashier at PharMor. I got that job because my cousin asked me to apply with her, and it was the beginning of my expectation and offering of excellent customer service.
- What’s something people would never guess about you?
I am so shy. I want others to feel welcome and a sense of belonging, so I am often getting outside of my comfort zone for those other shy folks who may be present.
- What is your favorite book and why?
Hmmm, I don’t know if this is a fair question to ask a librarian! However, three books in different areas come to mind. My favorite picture book is I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes. It is such a positive representation and celebration of Black boys and a book I give to friends and family. I gifted it to one child who had his teachers/school staff sign the book at the end of each school year. My most memorable book is Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. The writing paints such a vivid picture of the life and experiences of the Logan family and their life in 1930s Mississippi. The book is a celebration of family, which is near to my heart. While I love a print book, audio books are my favorite form of reading. Audio books are convenient and offer a different experience – which the narrator makes (or breaks). My favorite narrator is Bahni Turpin due to the range of voices and characters she brings to life in books. If you don’t already have the Libby app, it is an invaluable free (with a library card) resource for audiobooks, ebooks and magazines.
- What task do you most often procrastinate about doing and why?
Shopping! I am not a fan of shopping of any kind. It is time consuming as I usually get distracted from what I was originally looking to purchase. If I have to shop, then online is my preferred method.
- What is the best thing about your career?
I love meeting and connecting with people of all ages and diverse backgrounds, listening to who they are, what they may need, or where they are going on their life journey and being a connector to something that may be of interest or assistance on that journey. I enjoy being a role model for persons of African descent, in particular, who – due to the low percentage of Black/African American librarians who may be visible – may not have considered librarianship as a possible career.
- What is your favorite family tradition?
Can I please share two? Watching “The Wiz” on Thanksgiving and visiting my paternal family in Memphis, TN for the July 4 holiday.
- What are you most excited about in your life right now?
My new life in Flint! I am grateful for the people who I have met and the connections that are coming. I am so excited to explore all that the city and state have to offer. I am a huge fan of nature and outdoor activities, so I am on a quest to find the “best” city parks for daily walks with my Goldendoodle, Moonlight, in addition to hiking options. I love the local cultural offerings that I have and will continue to enjoy at The New McCree Theatre, The Capitol, Comma Bookstore and Social Hub, Downtown Flint and The Flint Cultural Center. I welcome any and all suggestions from readers to build my Flint, Genesee County and Michigan to-do list!