Parent You Should Know: James Kelly, Director of Frederick County Public Libraries

What’s the hardest part about juggling parenthood and your career?

Setting and maintaining boundaries. I’m finally learning the importance of saying no and not overcommitting. I built a team I can trust, and there’s very little they can’t handle, so I generally don’t check work email after hours. All of these factors make it possible to take the time I need to recharge personally and to connect with my family every day. I have the same expectation for my team.

What makes trying to balance both easier?

Being fully present for the person directly in front of me, whether that’s my partner, my daughter, a colleague or a member of the community. Staying focused, but flexible. Focus, I have. Flexibility, I continually work on. Eliminating stress by listening to music or getting outside every day helps a lot, too.

What do you love about being a parent?

I love seeing my daughter wonder about and marvel at things, then sharing that experience together. I love hearing her questions and then learning with her. Parenthood has radically reset my priorities, allowed me to cull a lot of unnecessary things from my life and helped me simplify. It has taught me the lesson of focusing on what I can control (read: not much).

What do you think is your biggest parenting fail?

Anytime I forget that my personal agenda for the day doesn’t dictate the pace of the house. I live with two other humans with their own equally important agendas, so it is all about communication, compassion and compromise. Whenever I forget that, someone cries. If I’m honest, sometimes it’s all three of us.

What’s the one thing you hope your daughter will learn from you and your career?

Helping other people is the most important thing I want her to learn.

How does the work you do for Frederick County Public Libraries benefit families in the community?

Everything we do aligns with our mission to connect people to ideas and to each other, helping to foster individual and community growth. When communities are strong, people feel empowered, and families thrive.


Family Meal: Pad see ew tofu from Kittiwat Thai Kitchen

Dessert: Ben and Jerry’s ice cream

Book to Read Together: “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill

Vacation Spot: Coastal Maine