System Director’s Report, July 2010
New Beginnings

Last week, I had the privilege of sitting on the interview committee for the first director of the Fitchburg Public Library.  I was struck by many things during the two days: the quality of the candidates, the commitment of the board and the interim director, the amount of organization that it took to put the process together.

But what struck me most is the incredible opportunity the board, municipal government, and new director will have in creating a new library from scratch. Imagine starting with no preconceived notions of what library service looks like, and having the opportunity to build the best possible library service for the community starting today. Imagine being able to create positive relationships between the municipal government, the library board, and the director from the beginning. Imagine starting out with all new staff, supplies, shelving, furniture, books, policies, etc., with no past history to guide decisions.  It’s a daunting challenge, but one the community seems excited to have.

SCLS will play a big supporting role in this process. I was proud to be able to say again and again, “We can help with that!” as the candidates asked questions about all of the tasks that were facing them. Over and over again, I heard kudos for SCLS and our amazing staff. It was quite heartwarming!

Last week I had the opportunity to share information about our own “new beginning” with staff from another library system. They are struggling with some of the same governance issues we were facing several years ago, and I shared with them the process we used to get to our new governance structure. I was pleased that others could learn from our long (and sometimes painful!) experience, and I look forward to being a resource for them in the future.

And here we are, preparing for a new beginning of our own: staff has been working hard this month to have everything in place for September 1, when Martha Van Pelt joins us. Everything from email and network accounts, to new furniture and computer, to cleaned drawers and bookshelves, are being prepared. You’ll help with this preparation by reviewing and hopefully approving some goals for Martha’s first six months at our board meeting.

I thought this would be my last system director’s report as interim director, but the board mailing will be sent on September 3, and someone told me it was “too mean” to have Martha writing a system director’s report on her first day, so I’ll have the opportunity to share with you one more time. See you all on the 9th!