Key MBLC Staff Retire


October 17, 2023
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director

Several staff members at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) are set to retire in October and November. They form part of the fabric of the library community and have established programs and services that libraries rely on and that residents benefit from and enjoy.

“People come to work at the MBLC because they want to make a difference. These staff members have improved library services for people in the Commonwealth, helped make Internet access in libraries possible, and put innovative design at the center of new library buildings. They’ve ushered all of us through tough times when there were budget cuts, and merging regions, to the emergence of new technologies and eBooks. They’ve helped legislators understand the important work we all do. In short, they’ve had an incredible impact and leave a legacy that we continue to build upon today,” said James Lonergan, Director of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Susan Gibson, Accountant
Susan has been working in the business office for 17 years and has worked on many important initiatives and projects. “Susan has been a steady, knowledgeable, and reliable colleague, whose goal is to problem-solve and to keep the wheels turning. The sheer number of financial transactions for the agency handled by Susan is truly remarkable,” said Tracey Dimant, Head of Operations & Budget. “I honestly do not know what we’re going to do without her.”

While Susan has been with the MBLC for last part of her career, she began working with the Commonwealth in 1991 and held positions at several agencies. “Each agency gave me the opportunity to obtain various skills which enabled me to have a successful career.  I’m grateful for the people I’ve met along the way. The best position I had was at BLC because working here has allowed me to work with nice and genuine people. Library lovers tend to be happier,” she said.

Paul Kissman, Library Information Systems Specialist
If you’ve ever used a research database, you have Paul Kissman to thank. He worked with former MBLC staffer Marlene Heroux to launch the statewide database program in 1997. Later in what Paul refers to as a watershed moment, he used geolocation to eliminate barriers to using the statewide databases. If you are in Massachusetts, you can use the databases—no library card needed. In fact, Paul’s career has been dedicated to ensuring that everyone, in every part of the state, can access library services. In the late 1990’s he worked with the Boston Library Consortium to develop the statewide virtual catalog, now called ComCat, which included the automated library networks and the University of Massachusetts systems. ComCat opened up the entire state’s collections to library users, with requested items delivered right to one’s home library. 

With state technology bond funds and significant support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Paul ushered the first PCs and internet access, via modem, into public libraries across the state. He worked with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute through the Massbroadband123 program and the OpenCape initiative to bring high speed fiber to as many libraries as possible in western and central Massachusetts and along route 6 on Cape Cod. He recently headed up the statewide Wi-Fi-hotspot program which dispersed 3,000 hotspots during the pandemic to more than 200 public libraries. Paul chaired the American Library Association’s E-rate Task Force which helps libraries across the country take better advantage of the E-rate program discounts on internet and related equipment and services.

He is currently working with colleague Kate Butler to help libraries understand the updated E-Rate program. He also continues to work with the Social Law Library. The partnership between the agencies has provided increased training and guidance to public service librarians so they can help library users find information and referrals when they are faced with civic legal problems such as evictions, immigration, and consumer debt, thereby forwarding the goals of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission.

Shelley Quezada,  Consultant to the Unserved   
Shelley is responsible for bringing some of the most innovative programs to Massachusetts libraries including Science is Everywhere, Citizenship Corners (for English for English Language Learners), Access for All, and more. “Among the most satisfying aspects of my work has been the implementation of library-based literacy and ESOL programs. Through our excellent federal grant program, we have been successful in refocusing access to library resources and services with the recognition that individual limitations are not the cause of disability. It our responsibility to provide appropriate services that ensure the needs of  people with disabilities are considered in the development of those services," said Quezada.  “And, year after year we have been joyfully able to fund early literacy programs such as Mother Goose on the Loose, Full STEAM Ahead and Mind in the Making: Creative Play spaces in Libraries thus underscoring the key role that library programs play in supporting family literacy,” she added. Shelley is also liaison with Massachusetts correctional libraries.

In addition to her role at the MBLC, Shelley has taught at the Simmons School of Library Information and Science for over 35 years. She is the recipient of the Massachusetts Library Association "Hall of Fame" award and the New England Library Association's Emerson Greenaway Award for Distinguished Service in Librarianship.

Mary Rose Quinn, Former Commissioner, Head of State Programs & Government Liaison
The hallmark of Mary Rose’s career is her capacity to take on new challenges, build relationships, and innovate. She served on Massachusetts Library Association’s Legislative Committee for more than two decades, as Chair of the New England Library Association’s Information Technology Section, on the Executive Board of NOBLE, and as the chair of the Northeast Massachusetts Regional Library System’s Digitization Committee. Before coming to the MBLC she had been a librarian for 25 years, her last position as Director of the Stevens Memorial Library in North Andover.

With her 2007 appointment to the MBLC by Governor Patrick, Mary Rose became the first sitting public library director to be appointed as an MBLC Commissioner where she took on many duties including Vice Chair, representative to Perkins School for the Blind Consumer Advisory Board, and liaison to the State Aid Review Committee. Her strong relationships with key legislators led to the establishment of the Legislative Library Caucus which raises awareness about library issues and makes library funding a priority in the state budget. Her relationships and understanding of the legislative process have been key in developing eBook legislation that pushes for fair pricing and business practices from the publishers and anti-book  banning legislation which she worked on with Senator Julian Cyr to address needs specific to Massachusetts.

In her role as head of State Aid to Public Libraries, she helped established a new five-year plan for municipalities that request funding waivers, giving libraries a clear path back to meeting the Municipal Appropriation Requirement. During COVID she recommended adjustments to State Aid regulations to give libraries the flexibility they needed to serve their communities during this critical time.

Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist
Being both an architect and a librarian, Lauren was uniquely qualified to take on her role in the Massachusetts Public Library Construction program when she began in 2014. Lauren’s work helped the MPLCP gain national recognition. She coordinated with the Boston Public Library to bring the prestigious Library Journal Design Institute to Massachusetts, she has published numerous articles in national publications, and she has presented at state, regional, and national conferences on topics including User Experience in Libraries, Making the Most of the Space You Have, The Post-Pandemic Library, and Health and Equity in Library Buildings.

Lauren brought a fresh perspective to the MPLCP and early in her time at the MBLC, she visited all public libraries in Massachusetts with populations under 3,000. This first-hand experience helped her gain an understanding of the unique challenges small communities face in trying to build new libraries and led to the development of the Small Library Pilot Project. In 2022, the Town of Shutesbury was the first grant of this program.

Massachusetts Public Libraries: An Evolving Ecosystem that she developed with Boston-based Sasaki has been called groundbreaking. It provided a unique, first of its kind look at how and why residents use public libraries across the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) commissioned this study in order to understand cooperative borrowing and use patterns of Massachusetts public libraries.

Recently, she collaborated with former colleague Rosemary Waltos, colleague Andrea Bono Bunker, and Sasaki to develop Library Space: A Planning Resource for Librarians. Because library services change so rapidly, best practices for space planning had been lacking for many years. Library Space: A Planning Resource for Librarians filled that void and the MBLC received requests for copies from libraries across the country and the world.

In addition, Lauren helped administer two major MPLCP grant rounds: a Planning and Design Grant round in which 24 libraries received grants and a Construction Grant round in which 22 libraries received grants. More than 30 communities opened MPLCP funded libraries during Lauren’s tenure.

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners ( is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.