Writing employee job descriptions is one of the most challenging projects for library managers. Well-written job descriptions attract the right candidates, guide the decisions of those doing the hiring, and help employees understand their responsibilities—factors that are increasing in importance as technology causes significant shifts in roles and expectations for library professionals. Crafting job descriptions in a union environment can add an extra layer of complexity.
Former New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott was named president and CEO of Queens Library (QL) on March 1. Walcott, a native of Queens, was selected by the board after a six-month national search. He succeeds Bridget Quinn-Carey, who has served as interim president and CEO since former QL president Thomas W. Galante was placed on administrative leave and then fired in December 2014 for alleged misconduct and mismanagement of library funds. Quinn-Carey will return to her prior role as QL executive vice president and COO. Assuming Walcott’s appointment is approved by the New York State Department of Education (DOE), he will assume his duties at QL on March 14. Although he is not a librarian, Walcott’s career has been devoted to education and social services, serving high-level administrative roles in New York City’s government and community organizations.
President Barack Obama announced on February 24 his intent to nominate Carla D. Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (EPFL) in Baltimore and 1995 LJ Librarian of the Year, as Librarian of Congress. In addition to leading EPFL since 1993, Hayden served as president of the American Library Association (ALA) from 2003–04 and has been on the National Library and Museum Services Board, which advises the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), since 2010. Hayden was also a member of the 2010 steering committee that guided the formation of the Digital Public Library of American (DPLA).
Brett Bonfield stepped into the role of director at the Princeton Public Library (PPL), NJ, on January 19. He succeeds former PPL director Leslie Burger, who announced her retirement in July 2015 after 16 years at the library’s helm. Bonfield, a 2012 LJ Mover & Shaker, served as director of the Collingswood Public Library, NJ, from 2008 through 2015; chaired the American Library Association (ALA) Future Perfect Presidential Task Force from 2010 to 2011, and cofounded the influential online journal of librarianship In the Library with the Lead Pipe—he is now an editor emeritus. LJ spoke with Bonfield shortly after he began work at Princeton to talk about fundraising, blogging, PPL’s 2Reimagine second floor renovation campaign, and what it’s like when everyone knows where you live—both literally and metaphorically.
In Fall 2015, the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) strategy team gained two codirectors, David Giles and Story Bellows—urban innovators with strong backgrounds in government policy. Giles joined the library as chief strategy officer in November 2015, after serving as research director at New York’s Center for an Urban Future (CUF), which in 2014 published Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries, a report examining the physical and economic challenges facing the buildings that make up New York City’s three library systems. In his new role, he will provide strategic leadership around program development, partnerships, advocacy, and capital planning, among other aspects of BPL’s mission. Leading the strategy team with Giles is Bellows, who became BPL’s chief innovation and performance officer in October. Before arriving in Brooklyn, Bellows cofounded and directed the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Philadelphia, an in-house research and development lab aimed at supporting innovative approaches to civic problem solving.
James (Jamie) LaRue, most recently CEO of LaRue & Associates, has been chosen to lead the American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), effective January 4, 2016 following the retirement of OIF director Barbara M. Jones on December 31. As former director of the Douglas County, CO, Library System and Colorado Librarian of the Year, LaRue will step into his new roles with hands-on library experience at all levels—local, regional, statewide, and national. He has also served on ALA’s Digital Content Working Group and OCLC’s executive council, as well as writing an LJ column on Self-Publishing and Libraries. LJ caught up with LaRue as he was preparing to relocate close to ALA headquarters in Chicago.
Higher ed is changing fast right now, and so is librarianship. Traditional in-person library and information science (LIS) education provided students with a robust network of peers for support. Over the last couple of decades, however, trends in higher education have reduced that automatic peer group—not only asynchronous online courses but also “unbundling,” in which students take classes at their own pace and from a variety of institutions. Postgraduate professional development opportunities, ranging from one-day conferences to workshops to certificate programs, were already more isolated, and these, too, have felt the further distancing impact of the digital shift. In addition, the proliferation of new competencies in librarianship can mean that a given librarian’s coworkers may have few if any points of overlap with what they do every day or need to learn—especially if they’re the sole representative on staff of a new library function.
Kelvin Watson last month was named Chief Innovation and Technology Officer for Queens Library (QL) in New York. In addition to his prior position as QL’s VP of digital services and strategy, Watson’s background includes positions at companies and organizations including The Library Corporation (TLC), Ingram, Borders, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He is also the current president of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA).
In the spring of 2014, Devin Becker, digital initiatives and web services librarian for the University of Idaho Library, Moscow, was recognized as an LJ Mover & Shaker for his “transformative” work with the University’s digital collections. Shortly afterward, his debut poetry collection Shame | Shame was selected from a field of 500 manuscripts as the winner of the A. Poulin Jr. Prize from publisher BOA Editions, Rochester, NY. Published in April 2015, the collection has been described by Guggenheim Fellowship and Whiting Award winner Michael Ryan as “a drop-dead funny book about desolation.” LJ recently caught up with Becker to discuss his debut.
Colorado’s Anythink libraries are anything but traditional, and that goes for job descriptions as well; positions there include wrangler, concierge, and guide. The work they do also tends to range outside the box, and Hannah Martinez, a concierge at Anythink Wright Farms in Thornton, has been awarded the 2015 Lucy Schweers Award for Excellence in Paralibrarianship for just that kind of creative thinking. Martinez, who has been at Anythink since 2010, was recognized for spearheading AnyAbility—an inclusive set of library programs for adults with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. The activities Martinez has helped to develop include crafts, story time, gardening, and a book club, all specifically designed to accommodate a wide range of abilities.