Library trustees approve priorities to go with search for new director

Library trustees approve priorities to go with search for new director
By Bob Seidenberg
Evanston Library Board trustees are moving deliberately in their selection of the city’s next Library chief, establishing a clear picture of what they’d like to see  in the ideal candidate before going out for interviews.
In a brief  report  at the  Aug17 meeting, Board President Tracy Fulce  spoke of  the  need to review the job  description  for the executive library director position, which is open for the first time in 11  yearsKaren Danczak Lyons, who held that post, retired June 17.
Heather Norborg, EPL’s adult learning  and literacy manager, has been serving as the Interim Executive Director.
Library trustees are hoping to  avoid the difficulties city officials encountered in their multiple searches for a city manager, with  candidates  dropping out in late stages of  the process.
“One of the things  that  has  come  up in every conversation that we’ve had, both as a smaller  committee and with members at large,[ and with] people in the community is that the job market has  changed really dramatically,”  said Fulce,  in the meeting held both in person and virtually. “And the old way of doing things, where you might have weeks and months in order to find an ideal  candidate has been shortened  very dramatically. And so before we release a call [forinterviews] or post the position,  we’d really like to have the feedback in advance, rather than the feedback after, so that when we begin interviewing,we move very quickly from candidate to offer.”
Responding to a question from trustee Margaret Lurie, Fulce indicated that use of a search firm is one of the questions the board needed to discuss.
Trustee Adam Goodman observed that the library is in good position in this case, with “effective leadership in place right now, both in terms of [Interim Executive Director] Heather [Norborg] and in terms of our staff generally. So this allows us to go through a search process, to move  in a predictable, thoughtful and intentional pattern because we’ve got  a good team that’s doing a great job.”
Priorities in place
At  the meeting, Fulce presented to the Board for approval set of operational priorities the trustees had  discussed earlier, which she expressed hope would help produce “a real clear focus in what we value so that a candidate would know if they were a natural fit.”
The priorities included an equity of access statement, prioritizing access to information, as well as a vision statement committing the library toward making “measurable progress in becoming a more equitable  institution that is consistently responsiveto  the community.”
The priorities also state that that Evanston Public Library Board “should be diverse, well prepared, accountable to (the) community,  exercising transparent,  efficient and effective oversight of the Library director.”
One of the recommendations also  included a new trustee orientation process to prepare all trustees to optimally contribute.
Trustee Esther Wallen expressed approval of what was drawn up. “I think data collection is going to  be key, finding  a process for assessment,” of the goals, she added.
Trustee Benjamin Schapiro suggested that trustees, who are appointed to fouryear terms by the mayor,  may want to build the priorities into their annual evaluations of the director’s performance, selecting certain items to be achieved as annual goals.

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