While neither a new name nor face for many in the Massachusetts insurance industry, Mr. Tetrault, nevertheless, is bringing new energy to the industry as the new Executive Director of the Insurance Library Association of Boston. Brimming with ideas, the Executive Director position is a bit of a dream come true for Mr. Tetrault, who first began taking classes at the Library while working for The Standard in the early 1990s.
“I have had so many people who have known me a long time say, ‘This is a great opportunity for you. You are the perfect person for the job”, says Mr. Tetrault, While he acknowledges a little bit of pressure in taking on this new role, he emphasizes that it is a good kind pressure. He also looks forward to delivering on people’s expectations, noting that he hopes that in two or three years down the road from now, those same people will be talking about how well things are going at the Library.
Aside from his 13 years as Editor of The Standard, Mr. Tetrault is also an insurance lawyer as well as a member of the CPCU Society. Most recently, he was the State and Policy Affairs Counsel for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (“NAMIC”). Agency Checklists had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Tetrault on a snow-day in Boston, last week, to discuss what drew him to the Library as well as his plans, goals and overall vision for the 132-year old institution in the coming years.
Combining a passion for books with a love of insurance
When asked what drew him to apply for the position of Executive Director, Mr. Tetrault had no trouble in citing the main factors in his decision to submit his resume.
“I like books. I like old books. I like information. I like being a lawyer. So, I am somebody who would visit a place like a library on my own free time.” he explained. “To have the opportunity to take [the helm of] an institution like this …a great institution, but [one] that has more potential to be realized, is really an attractive opportunity for me.” He hopes to be able to create some exciting opportunities at the library to make it be more of a value to the insurance industry over time. Part of that hope involves helping insurance professionals understand the purpose of the library and the value proposition it offers both companies and professionals in the insurance industry.
“I love the Library,” is something that he hears a lot of and admits that he, himself, has been guilty of saying. After starting in his new position, however, he found himself having to ask, “Well, what do people really love about the Library? What do they mean when they say that?” While he realized that it might mean different things for different people, overall, its “…some appreciation of what the Library does for the industry broadly.” He also realized that it is the Library’s vast collection.
“It is a unique collection. And that is something that I am reminded of regularly…how unique an institution the Library is. Not only in the collection, the history of the Library itself, but the history it holds. There is nothing else like it.” he notes. It is also one of the main reasons why his plans for the future include ways in which he can showcase the Library’s collection nationwide, to convey how it can help anyone working within the insurance industry.
“When I was with NAMIC, we were members. I myself would turn to the Library for research projects and would work with Megan and Sarah,” he said. Megan Stefanow and Sarah Hart are both longtime librarians with the Library. However, it was only after Mr. Tetrault came to work for the institution that he started understanding the real depth of experience that both these librarians have and can offer to those who use the Libraries services.
“They have each been there more than fifteen years, and have spent a lot of time on doing specific research projects for members of the Library,” he notes. “Specifically on insurance. So they are professionally trained, with masters of library science, research librarians that have spent all these years doing that.” No other institution has that type of experience level he notes and is something that he is looking to capitalize on. It is “…just something to really appreciate and to recognize…I stand back, and to some extent, marvel at the level at which they are able to sort of dig in, analyze … as I said, they know the collection so well, and how it can be utilized…That is an asset.” It is that special combination of the collection as well as the experience those managing that collection which brings such added value to the Library and that could be of value far beyond the Greater Boston area.”
“What the Library can add value to, is on specific topics…” he says in summing up. “You start with Google, but then you get to a certain point, ” contends Mr. Tetrault. To get to a real level of depth of understanding, however, takes the power of a library. “If you combine your mind and your thinking with an entity like the Library, who have looked at things from a different perspective, and are just aware of some of the other resources that might be out there, you can make sure you are covering the universe. You are getting the best information more efficiently.”
Making the Library a mecca for all things insurance
Another way in which Mr. Tetrault wishes to grow the Library is through creating as it as a destination for both learning and ideas. Education has always been a traditional centerpiece of the Library’s offerings. Not many people, aside from those working in downtown Boston, can attend classes on-site in the Library’s classrooms, however. Webinars offer an excellent way for students to take advantage of the Library’s well-regarded courses without having to travel to Boston. “Webinars are a clear opportunity for growth [for us], where we can harness our institutional leverage, and our understanding of knowledge resources. We have a great group of instructors that offer some unique perspectives and abilities.” In addition to webinars, the Library also creates on-site course offerings for companies or those entities who would like a tailored program specific to their needs.
While the Library expands its off-site capabilities, Mr. Tetrault plans to continue offering education classes at the Library’s downtown location. He sees the Library’s central location as a major draw for bringing new people into the Library.
“Our location remains a great location, right around the corner from Faneuil Hall. Using the Library’s privileged location is part of Mr. Tetrault’s plan for the Library to become a must-see stop for an insurance professional visiting Boston.
“There are people who have been working in the insurance industry, like me, for 25 years, who have never heard of the Insurance Library. They have never even conceived of the fact that there is a library devoted specifically to insurance.” he says, noting “But if I was visiting Philadelphia, San Antonio, and there was a unique insurance library there, I would want to go visit it.”
While looking forward to welcoming insurance professionals who visit Boston, the new Executive Director also hopes to see more visits from those who live locally as well. “One thing we would like to do is open up the doors to the library and have some events that people can come to. The first one, as you mentioned, is a meet and greet this week,” notes Mr. Tetrault adding,”…For a long time, the library has been a place for connecting people in different segments of the insurance industry in different ways. It has a great ability to help people with networking. Certainly, the Insurance Professional of the Year Award, our annual event, is a great networking opportunity.”
With that in mind, other types of events that might be of interest to all kinds of insurance professionals also are being organized such as this week’s “Meet and Greet”. Another such event scheduled for later this month, will see the Library host author Rob Galbraith who will present his new book, “The End of Insurance.” Later this year, the Library also will begin hosting its “movie nights” featuring insurance-theme flicks, with “Double Indemnity” and “Lloyd’s of London” already scheduled to be shown.
Transitioning the Library into the 21st century
Mr. Tetrault sees his role as a bit of an evangelist for the Library. He hopes to travel around the country to talk about the Library as well as to harness the 21st-century power of the internet and social media, in what Mr. Tetrault sees as a golden opportunity for the Library to develop its role as a unique repository of insurance information.
Ultimately, what Mr. Tetrault hopes to achieve is what he has previously said the founders of the Insurance Library sought in creating this institution – namely to make it as “the best thing of the sort in the world!”