Opp native takes helm of OPL

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 5, 2014

When Michael Mitchell graduated from Opp High School in 2008, he already knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life. Less than a year after graduating from the University of Alabama with a master’s degree in library science, he is living his dream as the new director of the Opp Public Library.

“I worked here in high school,” Mitchell said. “I pretty much knew in high school this is what I wanted to go into, so I kind of ran through school with this in mind.”

Mitchell graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in English, before attending graduate school at UA.

“I wanted an English background, because it’s kind of a research background,” Mitchell said.

In March, Mitchell returned to Opp, where he spent three months on the staff of the Opp News, before replacing former library director Gayle Claire at OPL.

“She was my boss when I worked here in high school,” he said. “So, this is a really good opportunity for me and one that I’m very thankful for.”

Mitchell said he is also blessed at OPL with an outstanding support staff that includes, senior librarian Janet Davis, children’s librarian Courtney Shae and Leslie Jones, who has been acting in a volunteer role as director of the summer reading program.

“We have a lot of good people that have really helped with me just getting things figured out,” he said.

And while Mitchell said there is plenty of opportunity for growth at the library, he is initially focusing his efforts on two major categories: collection development and programs.

“We have a running wish list of books for our collection,” he said. “And there are some things we want to do with our ebook lending. Our summer reading program gets started next week and there are other programs we are looking at.”

With plenty of potential to serve the Opp community at OPL, and many changes surely on the horizon in the digital age, Mitchell said he is excited about what can be accomplished in the coming years.

“At its core, a library is an information center for its community,” he said. “So whatever the community needs is what we’ll provide.”

Mitchell said the Summer Reading Program begins Monday and runs through Friday, with two sessions each day at 10 a.m. for younger children and at 2 p.m. for older children.

Mitchell is the son of Jonathan and Kelly Mitchell of Opp.