HARTFORD — - In a break from tradition, the board of the Hartford Public Library named a chief operating officer Wednesday whose professional background is not in library services.
Matthew K. Poland brings extensive business experience, including time as a senior vice president and chief operating officer at Work/Life Innovations and as senior vice president of human resources at Veritude, a Fidelity investments company, and more than 10 years as a vice president at The Courant.
"We felt we had to take a bold move here," board President Geraldine Sullivan said Wednesday. "We know the financial constraints of the city and the state. We are going to have to look for new revenue streams."
Sullivan said that Poland brings fresh ideas and visionary skills to the position, but that the move doesn't discount the importance of a senior librarian. Poland, she said, would be making decisions about the duties of the top librarian, and who would hold the position.
Janet Benedict, deputy chief librarian under Louise Blalock until Blalock retired in December 2008, has been serving with Poland as co-director since then.
Poland, 57, said Wednesday that Benedict would be considered for the top position and that he hoped Benedict would at least stay on until a new leadership structure is determined.
Poland, whose salary will be $125,000, said he plans to focus on short- and long-term fundraising and planning for the library's future.
"Libraries need to be more adaptive to change," he said. "They need to be ready for it and not knocked over by it."
That would include looking at the services the library offers and how they can be delivered more efficiently in a system with 11 branches, some of which have been closed for periods of time as a result of budget shortfalls.
"We have to figure out a way for that not to happen," Poland said.
David Ionno, a senior library assistant who has been with the Hartford Public Library for 18 years, said he and other employees look forward to working with Poland.
"We know he has a high regard for library employees," Ionno said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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