April 19, 2018

Atlanta-Fulton County Library System Picks Clearwater’s Szabo

By LJ Staff

John F. Szabo, director of the Clearwater Public Library System in Clearwater, FL, since 1999, has been named director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Library System, effective April 4. He takes over a troubled system that last year saw the state-ordered reform of the library board, taking away their power to hire and fire the director, and the subsequent firing of Director Mary Kaye Hooker last May. Hooker was one of four people (along with three board members) found liable in a race discrimination case that settled for $18 million; she was also the subject of severe criticism by employees, as noted in a workplace audit.

Szabo was cited by County Manager Tom Andrews for playing an instrumental role in the development of the Clearwater’s new Main Library, establishing relationships with the private sector and community groups, and finding new revenue sources. He is former president of the Florida Library Association and board president of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium. Though the search process did not allow Szabo to meet with the library staff or the public, he told LJ that he was eager to meet with staff, board members, and other stakeholders. ‘I think it’s important, in the short term, to be very accessible and visible, particularly in regard to the library staff,’ he said, adding, ‘I think a time of healing has already begun. The interim director, Anne Haimes, from what I’ve heard, has done an excellent job. I see an incredible opportunity to help write a success story.’ He will earn $120,000; Hooker earned $116,500.