Port Townsend Library board to urge limited nationwide search for new chief
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Port Townsend Library collections manager Beverly Moore catalogs some of the books that will need to be stored in anticipation of the library’s move back into the Carnegie Building, scheduled for the end of May. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The library advisory board will recommend to the City Council that a limited nationwide search be done for a new library director, although without the services of a recruiting firm.

“We want to catch the attention of people who are actively searching, and it’s possible to find someone very quickly,” said board member Larry Fisher.

“If we put an ad in trade journals, we can find someone efficiently and inexpensively.”

The timing is critical, as the board hopes to both hire the new director and move into the library out of its temporary location and back into the Carnegie building in the spring.

The council will address both the Port Townsend Library’s return to the Carnegie Building at 1220 Lawrence St. and the hiring of a new director when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers at historic City Hall, 540 Water St.

On Tuesday, the advisory board approved memorandums on both topics that will be submitted to the council for possible action.

The new director will fill the position vacated by the retirement of Theresa Percy in July.

Former library director Bev Shelton is the interim director until a permanent one is hired.

Those applying internally should be considered for the position but should apply along with all the other candidates, the board said.

“If we conduct a search and end up hiring internally, we will have wasted effort, time and money on the search, but if we don’t go outside, we could miss out on some good candidates,” said board member Ian Keith.

The board also discussed replacing children’s librarian Jean-Marie Tarascio, who plans to retire at the end of May, which corresponds with the move back to the Carnegie.

On Tuesday, the board discussed whether Tarascio’s replacement should be determined prior to hiring the new director or whether that personnel decision should be the responsibility of the new director.

One possibility would be to fill Tarascio’s position with an interim hire, Shelton said.

The “placeholder” salary range for the director’s position is $70,000 to $86,400, according to a draft of the document that will be presented to the council.

Once the move into the Carnegie is complete and the new director hired, library staff will begin planning a long-term strategy.

The library moved from its location at 1220 Lawrence St. in April 2012 into rooms at the Mountain View Commons, 1919 Blaine St., that once served as the school cafeteria.

The library stayed in its temporary location beyond the expected eight months when expansion advocates sought to find funding for the full renovation with the bond issue, which was defeated by voters in August.

The board is completing “conceptual guidelines” for the move back into the Carnegie that do not address how the move will be accomplished and where the collections will be stored.

This includes the installation of self-checkout machines as well as plans to increase shelf space by moving collections off-site and having them be available by request.

During the public comment period, Margaret Lee of Port Townsend said off-site storage was “troubling.”

It could result in a collection that is weighted toward the most popular books and endanger the diversity of the library’s offerings, she said, suggesting the establishment of a branch library as an option.

Lee also said the failure to properly reinforce the floor of the Carnegie building so it could accommodate a full scope of collections was a mistake, especially in light of the bond’s defeat.

The floor was not reinforced because plans for the library included turning the second floor into a meeting space and moving the collections to an addition, which now will not be constructed.

“The result is that we are now struggling to find room for our book collection,” Lee said.

“I am very disturbed that the second floor would become a popular place to hang out.

“We should not be sacrificing dedicated, quiet space for reading and study.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 01. 2014 9:23AM
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