April 19, 2018

New Search Process Approved in Knoxville

By LJ Staff

Will Charles Davenport, the interim library director of the Knox County
Library System, Knoxville, TN, get the permanent job, as some critics fear? It
seems less likely, now that the library board of trustees has approved a new
search process proposed by County Executive Mike Ragsdale. Davenport, an 18-year
veteran of the board and its former president, was named interim director in a
4-3 vote in August that was widely condemned by local citizens. The board refused widely respected director Patricia Watson’s offer to stay on after she retired September 6.

While Davenport, whose experience is as a school
librarian rather than public library administrator, said he hasn’t decided
whether to seek the permanent job, Knox County Commissioner John Schmid told the
Knoxville News-Sentinel that he doubts Davenport will meet the
requirements of the new search committee. Under Ragsdale’s plan, the
seven-member committee includes four members appointed by the library board–but
two of them must be people who did not vote for Davenport as interim director.
Ragsdale will choose the other three members. The Knox County Public Library
System Staff Association has recommended three candidates, all librarians with
administrative experience but not county employees. While the library approved
Ragsdale’s plan September 23, it had refused to act at its previous meeting
September 13. The News-Sentinel
subsequently editorialized that the plan could help restore public faith in its process,
and urged the library to accept it.