The Dallas Public Library is Looking for a New Director. Again.

Categories: City Hall

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Some time after November 9, the Dallas library system will get a new director. We hope.
It's been more than two years now since Laurie Evans stepped down as director of the Dallas Public Library. Since then, the operation has been steered by a pair of interim directors: first Corinne Hill, who set off for Tennessee earlier this year at least in part because the search for Evans' was moving at a glacial pace; and then by Kris Sweckard, who is less librarian than management consultant.

For a moment last year, it seemed the library wouldn't be leader-less forever. A nationwide search conducted by a DeSoto-based executive search firm netted three finalists. The problem was that two of the those candidate were deeply flawed. One had been fired from her job with the Detroit library system after an investigation found "irregularities" related to a $2.3 million expansion. The other left Tennessee's Knox County library system under somewhat mysterious circumstances and in the midst of a ruckus over severance pay.

The city ended up selecting none of them, appointing Sweckard instead. That's where things stood until last week, when the city quietly began advertising for a new library director.

It's a national search, seeking to "identify highly successful individuals who are innovative, passionate and enthusiastic leaders and business minded managers to lead the Dallas Public Library," says the job advertisement. That person should have a master's library science, eight to 10 years of library experience, and, preferably, experience in a "large urban diverse public library."

The search is being led by The Hawkins Company, a California-based search firm. This is a different firm than the city used in the first go-round, though their websites do look equally amateurish.

I've emailed city spokesman Frank Librio for a few more details about the search and when the library might have a new director. For now, we know that resumes are due by November 9, so it will be some time after that.

Update at 4:35 p.m.: Librio got back to me and said that an offer actually was extended after the first search to a third candidate from California but that he declined the offer. City manager Mary Suhm then decided to wait a while to relaunch the search.

"Mary's thinking was the economy's still tenuous, ... maybe we should wait until the economy turns around, put more money into the materials budget, and get the library system up to more compteitive level so Dallas is more attractive" to a candidate, Librio says.

With additional money proposed for the coming year's materials budget, Suhm felt that now was a good time to move things forward. Librio isn't sure how long the whole process will take -- it takes time to fly in candidates for interviews and the like -- but said that the process will be thorough.

"Mary's a former librarian," he said. "She has her masters in library science, so the library director is a very important position to the city manager."


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4 comments
monica.burk
monica.burk

Hire Corinne Hill back.  Let her do Travelgate in Dallas instead of Chattanooga.

heyheymama
heyheymama

Mary isn't putting money into the materials budget out of the goodness of her heart.

The DPL would lose its accreditation without the increase.

Accreditation is required to qualify for private foundations' grant monies.

 

She had found a loophole in previous budget years:  newly constructed libraries had 2006 bond money for adding new materials to supplement collections that transferred from closed branches.

She used this "found" money to get around starving the materials line item in the City's operating budget.

Can't do that any longer.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Despot and Cali search firms with crappy websites? There are no Dallas search firms? No city HR?

PepperoniCalzone
PepperoniCalzone

Maybe the library staff will be told the names of the finalists, and actually get to meet them this time around. Or even - dare we hope - the Public might have an opportunity to hear the finalists speak on their philosophies and plans for managing $18 million of the City's money...

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