In his career as a librarian, Terry B. Hill has worked in a number of positions in his home state of North Carolina, from academic libraries to the Durham County Library. After spending nearly 10 years as Deputy Director there, he came to Jersey City as the new director of the Jersey City Free Public Library.
As Hill takes the place of Jeffrey Trzeciak, who departed this spring, he’ll oversee 144 staff members in the library system, it’s main building and nine branches. Hill wants to bring the work that he did in Durham to Jersey City’s libraries.
“I really want to make sure that we are reaching everyone in the community, increasing our outreach efforts, and creating environments within our buildings where people want to come and use our space as a gathering and community space,” Hill said. “We’re evaluating our collection and making sure our collection represents our community as well.”
Becoming a librarian
Hill was initially not interested in pursuing a librarianship. When he was an undergraduate, he worked in a library, and the librarian he worked for at the time mentioned it as a profession. Despite his initial thoughts, Hill continued to pursue pursue jobs in libraries.
“Like a lot of people who come to this profession, I found where I fit in, decided to go to library school, and the rest is history,” he said.
He worked in academic libraries, becoming Chief of Staff at North Carolina State University. He became Deputy Director at Durham County Library in 2012, his public library, where he was responsible for managing all the branches and community engagement departments.
At the time, the city of Durham was growing, and it had to expand services to meet the needs of a growing population. The city renovated the downtown library, opened remote computer labs, and bought a technology vehicle. He also worked on finding ways to bridge the digital divide, collaborating with a group called Digital Durham.
Moving to Jersey City
Hill decided to head north and come to Jersey City in part because of the community.
“At a point in my professional life, I was ready to pursue a director position,” he said. “But it also had to be in a community that I felt comfortable in, and one that I feel like I can really be a part of and serve. So that’s what drew me to Jersey City.”
Durham and Jersey City have some things in common. Both are in counties that have grown rapidly and are among the most diverse in their states.
Hill’s top priority is getting to know everyone. Along with outreach efforts, he wants to create community spaces in the library system, similar to Durham’s. He also wants the collection to reflect the community.
Hill wants to make the library an invaluable resource for the Jersey City community. “For the library to be the place people think of when they need to gather, when they need access to resources, or a place where they just want to be and come and have a comfortable place,” he said. “I want the library to be at the top of everyone’s mind when they think of Jersey City.”