Board Postpones Search For New Chief City Librarian
February 19, 2009
Citing a need to concentrate on the coming budget season, the board of directors of the Hartford Public Library has postponed a nationwide search for a new chief librarian.
Instead, the library will continue to be led on an interim basis by Janet Benedict, deputy chief librarian for public services, and Matthew Poland, deputy administrator. Benedict and Poland assumed additional responsibilities in December with the retirement of Chief Librarian Louise Blalock.
Library board President Geraldine Sullivan said Wednesday that Benedict and Poland have been "doing a wonderful job," and it was important for the board to focus on its budget in what promises to be an especially difficult year. The city is bracing for an $8 million budget deficit, and the library board has already submitted a budget proposal with a 5 percent cut from the current spending level, but Sullivan said more trimming may be necessary.
"We have great challenges ahead of us regarding cuts to the budget, which we know will have to be made," Sullivan said. "So we've decided to postpone the search until the fall, but not abandon it."
Board member William Large also complimented Benedict and Poland for their work with the board and with Mayor Eddie A. Perez's office, and for including library staff in the planning and decision-making process.
"The difference in attitude on the part of the staff is obvious," Large said in an e-mail.
Sarah Barr, director of communications for Perez, said in an e-mail Wednesday that the mayor is also supportive of the decision to maintain the current leadership structure.
"The interim leadership team has shown a refreshing commitment to working with the city on meeting budgetary targets and providing transparency on the true needs of the library system," Barr said.
Although the search for a new librarian is stalled, the board has authorized the hiring of a development director, whose responsibilities would include fundraising and identifying funding sources outside the city's budget and the library's endowment.
"We met with the mayor, and he understands that it will help ease the burden on the city," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said she expects the current leadership structure to stay in place until a new chief librarian is hired and that she expected the search to take about six months.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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