By Cassy Fiano-Chesser
Chett Wood is the Reference and Adult Services Librarian at the Bartram Trail Branch of the St. Johns County Library. His career started through volunteering, and he’s since become passionate about showing people all the library has to offer. He also has a number of well-rounded interests, including running, golf, and Disney World.
Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: I originally lived in Virginia, and moved to Florida in elementary school. I lived in St. Johns County — not as far north as I work now. I lived just on the St. Johns County Golf Course. I graduated from Pedro Menendez High School. I went to University of South Florida to get my master’s degree, and my hobbies include running, video games, and going to Disney World, which I go to a lot! I also love playing golf. I play badly, but I try to play every week.
Q: How did you decide to become a librarian?
A: I graduated college and, like a lot of people my age, moved home, and couldn’t find a job in what my undergrad was in. I kind of meandered about, and started volunteering at the Bartram Trail branch. My family lived in Palm Coast, and one day a week, my sister would come pick me up and I’d stay with her in Jacksonville so I could work there, shelving books and helping out. I would help the kids make crafts and stuff. I thought, “I kind of like this!” I got a part-time job with the county eventually, and shortly after that, I realized, “Maybe I want to do this. Maybe this is something I want to make a career of.” The smart choice was to go to grad school, especially if you want to work in a library.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your job?
A: The presentations that I give. People come in and they’ll say, “Oh, hey, I didn’t know libraries did anything like this!” There’s this magic moment when someone who doesn’t usually use a library comes in and is wowed by something you did. My whole experience at libraries prior to working in libraries is that they’re a place for books. That’s still part of it, but it’s that moment of, we can do something more than that. It brings people into a library who otherwise might never use a library.
Q: You mentioned being a big Disney fan. What do you love so much about going there?
A: My best friend from high school works at Disney, which means we get to do all the neat behind-the-scenes things people don’t usually get to do. My favorite part, though, is that there’s always something I haven’t done. I haven’t yet made a trip to Disney where I haven’t gotten to do something that was new to me. I also love pin-trading. It’s super nerdy, but I love it. My childhood collectibles were antique nutcrackers, and my new adult collectibles are Disney trading pins.
Q: What is your favorite thing about St. Johns County?
A: I really like downtown St. Augustine. I like to walk St. George Street with my parents and walk through all the little antique shops. I also did a bunch of races, like the St. Augustine Half Marathon; just getting to go over the Bridge of Lions, and go through town, and seeing all the architecture around St. Augustine is really cool to me.
My one-year race anniversary is in April. My running joke is that I have not failed a New Year’s resolution in the last five years, and the 2019 one was to run a half-marathon. I’m naturally impatient, so instead of doing it in November like originally planned, I did it in April. I used to be a really big guy. I used to be 300 lbs, and now I’m around 175 lbs. I took up running because I ping-ponged around in the 220-ish range, and I was like, clearly I need to find another goal, something to reach for, and I thought, I’ll try running. I did a RunDisney race as my first-ever race. There’s a little display in my branch right now of all my race medals that I’ve earned all in the past year, and I have another one coming up in February. The idea is that people who come into the library can earn this one with me.
Photo courtesy Chett Wood