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Salt Lake City Library Board launches 2nd search for director

Published November 5, 2012 7:59 am

Digital Age • The right candidate must be a manager and an innovator.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The search is on — again.

The Salt Lake City Library Board has appointed a second committee to find a new director.

An initial search, launched in February, brought forth about three dozen applicants for the top slot at the public library. But the six-month process that ended in September failed to find a candidate the board believed would move the institution forward, said Kevin Werner, board president.

The question now: How should the new search differ from the first one that came up empty?

"That's a good question," Werner said. "We aren't going to repeat the process we had before. But we don't have the new process yet."

The search committee is looking for a director who is a good people manager, has the skills to guide a large multi­faceted organization, and not least, someone who has the ability to lead a public library into the age of e-books, video downloads and streaming.

During the first effort, Werner said, the search committee advertised nationally, attended meetings of librarian organizations across the country and generally put out the word that the Salt Lake City Library needed a new director.

The search cost an estimated $8,000, said library spokeswoman Julianne Hancock.

The compensation for the director position includes an annual salary that ranges from $103,000 to $142,000, which is in line with other cities of similar size, Werner said.

"I'm skeptical of any claim that salary held back our recruitment," he added.

The library is now under the tutelage of acting Director Linda Hamilton, who was scheduled to leave at year's end. Werner said the board wants Hamilton to stay until a new director is found — hopefully by spring 2013.

Hamilton, who also is the chief administrative officer for outgoing Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, took the helm at the library Nov. 28, 2011, a month after the departure of embattled former Director Beth Elder.

Morale under Elder had suffered, and the staff appeared to be near rebellion.

But Hamilton brought things back to an even keel, according to employees and board members.

Hamilton said last week she would stay on at the library, although she had planned to retire when Corroon's term expires in early January.

"I made a commitment to stay as long as they needed me," she said. "And I like to keep my commitments."

Nonetheless, staffers remain somewhat unsettled, said Brooke Young, a 15-year library employee and vice chairwoman of the Library Employees Organization.

Library workers were deflated by the news that no new director was found in September. But, on the other hand, they didn't want the board to hire the wrong person.

"We're just buckling down and getting things done," Young said. "But nobody is excited. [The selection of a new director] is just too far away."

Young said she and her colleagues are aware that a new director, to be successful, will need the skill to lead the library further into the digital age.

"But the staff just wants someone who can bring people together."

csmart@sltrib.com