myMETRO Member Spotlight: Barbara Genco

It was a thrill to speak with Barbara Genco for this month's myMETRO Member Spotlight! Barbara's commitment to the profession is exemplary, and we look forward to seeing what she does next.


Barbara GencoBarbara A. Genco spent over twenty-five years in collection development and management at Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), where she specialized in creating and managing centralized selection models, value-added vendor relationships, and technical services process reengineering. Genco is a Past President of the Association for Library Service to Children (American Library Association) and has served on juries for the Caldecott, Newbery, Geisel, Boston-Globe Horn Book, and Society of Illustrators. She currently serves on the 2014 ALSC Sibert Award Committee and BookExpo America’s Conference Advisory Board. In 2000, Genco was awarded the prestigious Public Library Association’s Allie Beth Martin Award.

1. When did you first join myMETRO?

I learned about the benefits of myMETRO membership through my former BPL colleague Michael Santangelo. (Michael is a myMETRO charter member.) In fall 2009 I had just retired after thirty-four years at the Brooklyn Public Library and was beginning my ‘second wave career’ as a consultant. I was looking for a professional development and networking home. myMETRO filled the bill.

2. Describe your work experience prior to joining the profession. What has been your most rewarding experience as a professional so far?

I am rather an anomaly. I actually entered library school immediately after college. It was the early 70’s. I had been a library page in high school and wanted a career that would merge my love of literature and popular culture with an activist response to societal challenges like low literacy, generational poverty, etc. I decided on Pratt SILS—then on the Brooklyn campus—because Pratt offered a concentration in Urban Librarianship.

I truly enjoyed my career at Brooklyn Public Library. I began there in March 1975. But by July 1975 NYC was on the brink of bankruptcy and I was laid off. ( I was recalled and then was laid off and recalled two more times.) It was a bad time to be an early career librarian. Most of my career I worked in a city institution struggling with budgetary insecurity. But we survived and even thrived. I worked as Adult Services and Children’s Services librarian, a Branch Librarian, a Materials Selector, and an Executive Manager (Collection Development, Strategic Planning).

There have been so many rewarding experiences since I entered Pratt forty years ago. Just two highlights? Being appointed and serving as an Honorary Delegate to the 1991 White House Conference on Libraries II (thanks to my Congressman, the late Major Owens). Our Youth Agenda Kids Need Libraries was the #1 outcome. I was also privileged to serve as the President of the ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) in 2002-2003.

3. What drew you to your particular line of work?

I believe in the transformative power of libraries. Period.

Right now? I want to continue to learn. I want to leverage my skills in new environments and work with smart, dedicated colleagues. My current Project Management work at Library Journal, my occasional consulting with the Ivy Group (I just completed a collection development redesign with Tulsa City County Library) and my teaching at Pratt SILS offer opportunities for me to continue to contribute.

4. Tell us a little about the projects that capture your interests these days (either for yourself or an organization).

I had a great experience working as the Project Manager for LJ’s Public Library Patron Profiles research project. I am convinced that our efforts helped move the needle on the publishing industry’s willingness to distribute trade ebooks to libraries. I am also the project manager for LJ/SLJ’s annual The Digital Shift (#TDS13) free online day-long educational conference. #TDS14 (our 5th annual) will be on October 1, 2014. Save the date!

5. What are your favorite ways to stay on top of industry trends?

Naturally I read Library Journal, School Library Journal (and our related websites), ALA Division Journals/blogs, etc. I am a great fan of Gary Price’s infoDocket for breaking library and tech news. I also read the publishing and tech news in PW, The Atlantic, The NY Times, WSJ’s All Things Digital, The Christian Science Monitor, and more. I am also an NPR junkie.

6. What do you find most valuable about your myMETRO membership?

I really value the opportunity to participate in continuing education via METRO. I volunteer at a small arts association The Salmagundi Club on lower Fifth Avenue—just a few blocks from METRO. I am really excited about the forthcoming DPLA Hub at METRO! And I cherish the colleagues I have met via myMETRO experiences. Smart and committed!


Are you a myMETRO Member? Would you like to be featured in a myMETRO spotlight? Contact Tom Nielsen at for more information.