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Lakewood Ranch Library hires branch manager

The library won't be open until the fall, but Tiffany Mautino is going full-steam ahead.

Tiffany Mautino is the new branch manager at the Lakewood Ranch Library opening this fall.
Tiffany Mautino is the new branch manager at the Lakewood Ranch Library opening this fall.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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Browsing through a Barnes & Noble bookstore, Tiffany Mautino noticed that a customer needed help to find a book.

Mautino thought to herself, “I don’t work here, lady, but I know where that book is.”

After leading the woman to her title and recommending a few others in between, Mautino was approached by the manager of the store, who had noticed her kindness and asked her if she had ever considered working in a bookstore.

Her response was “Absolutely not.”

The manager suggested Mautino look into going to school to be a librarian.

That moment, 14 years ago, ended up being a key moment in Mautino's life. Although she was not convinced she wanted to pursue being a librarian for a career, she was intrigued. She got a part-time job at a local library to see if she would like the work.

She obviously did. Mautino has been named the new branch manager for the Lakewood Ranch Library, which is expected to open late this year.

Mautino, 43, said she originally had wanted to become a comic book artist, before building a career working in restaurants and event planning. She eventually suffered burnout with that pursuit and returned to college to earn an English degree. After earning it, she wasn't sure what to do with it.

“What drew me to (libraries) in the beginning was I got to make my own way, even when I was a part time person,” Mautino said. “I had managers who were looking at my translatable skills and saying, ‘Here’s how you can apply that at the library.’ I was artistic and used to doing installation displays with events, so I started doing installation displays for the library. And from there, I explored.”

Since she began working in libraries, Mautino has become an educator and advocate for intellectual freedom, a core value of librarianship. She was a founding member of the Intellectual Freedom Committee within her own library system and also served as chair for the Missouri Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee.

In 2013, Mautino started presenting an intellectual freedom workshop for library frontline staff in Missouri. Over the past two years, she’s presented the workshop at conferences nationwide. 

Beyond her professional experience, Mautino is a lifelong reader. Her reading average is a book a week, and her tastes range from classics to space operas. 

“I’m pretty sure my mom spent about $50 a month when you could still find comic books at the grocery store for under $2 in the 1980s and '90s,” Mautino said. “From there, I had great English teachers in middle school and high school, who introduced me to ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘Animal Farm,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ‘1984,’ ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ and so many others.”  

To this day, Mautino buys every copy of “Animal Farm” she comes across, owns four copies of "Frankenstein" and is a sucker for illustrated editions. She calls her book collecting a sickness and loves rereading as much as reading. While she’d never break the cardinal rule of not defacing a library book, she takes pleasure in marking up the pages of her own. 

“I like picking that book up years later and getting to not only read the story again, but getting to engage with my past self and past perspectives,” Mautino said. “Sometimes, I find I was smarter and more insightful than I am presently, and sometimes I think, ‘Oh, weren’t you just precious?’”

Brand new library

Not every librarian gets the chance to open a brand new library. 

"It’s so open to possibilities,” Mautino said. “I always start from the philosophy that everything we do in libraries should be customer focused. In that, my goal is to capitalize on the overwhelming community engagement in and around the Lakewood Ranch area. People are excited about their library, and I want to build on that feeling.” 

The library is set to open late this year, and Mautino has a lot to do between now and then. She started March 20, five days after moving from Kansas City, Missouri. At the moment, she’s busy reading resumes and book reviews. 

“I’m buying books, so many books. It takes time,” she said. 

There’s also more on the shopping list than books. Mautino weighs in on paint colors, carpeting, early literacy toys, gaming consoles and more. She has to contract with technology vendors and create a makerspace, which is exactly as it sounds — a space for the public to make things. Designing one will be a first for Mautino. 

“I’m figuring out what a Fab Lab looks like,” she said. “Another little thing from earlier this week is I had a signage meeting to talk about what kinds of signs go in the library so people can find the bathroom and the reading room—all those itty bitty details that go into it.” 

The library will also feature new self checkout machines that none of the other branches have yet. 

Sue Ann Miller, the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library board president, was given a tour of the new by facility by Mautino. Miller’s assessment is that Lakewood Ranch has been blessed with a "knowledgeable, enthusiastic and excellent match" for its new library.

“We’re pleased," Miller said. "We have high hopes that it’s going to be an exceptional library, and one that meets the needs of all the people in our community,” Miller said. “I think (Mautino) will be a very good representative of library services here in Lakewood Ranch.”



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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