Mary Jo Giudice has been named Director of the Dallas Public Library (DPL), effective December 26, 2012.
Giudice has worked for the Dallas Public Library in a variety of capacities since 2004, most recently as interim assistant director for programming and communications. She received her MLIS from the University of South Carolina and a BS from the University of Florida.
She takes on a system which has weathered a series of financial challenges in the past few years but has hopefully turned the corner: The library’s budget has been cut 46 percent since 2008, but this year it saw a slight increase, adding $1 million to the materials budget. In spite of the cuts, DPL has also added new branches over the past few years: today DPL circulates over 8,000,000 items a year via a central location and 28 branches, including several LEED certified buildings and what it calls “the very first library inside a shopping mall.”
Corinne Hill, who was Dallas interim director of libraries in 2011, told LJ at that time: “We are at the bare minimum with staffing, but it may be steadying a bit. It’s got to be the bottom.”
The city hired a search firm to find a permanent director in August 2011, according to INFOdocket.com, with the intent of having the search finished by the end of that November. But according to the Times Free Press, though DPL eventually offered the permanent directorship to Hill well after the deadline, she chose to become director of the Chattanooga Public Library instead.
When Hill removed herself from contention, rather than appoint one of the other two finalists, Juliet Machie and Larry Frank, the city named another interim director and continued the search. Frank, former senior director of library services in Knoxville, TN, ended up in a wrangle with Knoxville over severance, then accepted the directorship of Loutit District Library only to resign after a week. Machie, who was involved in the Detroit PL’s controversial renovation, is currently suing the Detroit Library for failing to promote her to director, alleging bias. She has also been listed as a finalist for directorships in Gary, IN; Mahoning County, OH; and Tulsa, OK.
The second interim director, Kris Sweckard, was a city employee but not a librarian. At the same time he was named, the city named Giudice to the post of interim assistant director for programming and communications, citing the need “to develop a strong team of executives prepared for succession” within the DPL. Guidice had previously served as administrator for children and teen services.