By: Marenda Escobar
Meet Damien Shipman. Damien works for the St. Joe County Public Library at the River Park Branch and has an amazing library story spanning nine years of service.
Damien says his library journey began by just checking out comic books. River Park Branch was within walking distance of his high school and he’d visit often. Eventually, Damien started volunteering, recalling a library employee noticed how frequently Damien visited, and encouraged him to volunteer. Damien graduated high school and started working as a Shelver at River Park, serving in this role for five years. While in this role, Damien applied and interviewed for his current role as a full-time Library Assistant at River Park. Damien got the job, and recalls how huge it felt. Working at the front desk definitely pushed him to explore outside his comfort zone.
To Damien, interacting with people, being a part of their journey, and being able to make a positive impact in their lives is what makes working at the Library so meaningful. “I started out as a shy individual, but now, thanks to all the great people who come to River Park, I am now a confident employee spreading joy from all walks of life.” He’s seen “kids become teens, moms become grandmoms, and high school students become college students.”
This August, Damien will complete nine years of service at the Library’s River Park Branch. Speaking of River Park, Damien says that in all these years, the Branch has impressively remained the same. One of his favorite stories includes a community member bringing a fish they’d just caught, to River Park Branch to show him. Damien is also grateful to have had the best possible manager, “Papa Joe,” (Joe Sipocz, River Park’s Branch Manager) who has given him the flexibility to explore in his role.
Damien’s advice to community members who want to get involved at the Library is to visit a Branch or attend one of the many programs or events the Library offers to the community, and talk to the people there.
Be sure to say hello to Damien next time you visit the River Park Branch.