New library director faces new problems
The Timberland Regional Library Authority is continuing its search for a new director of the five-county library system. An effort to hire a new director recently failed when the library board felt it didn’t get enough applicants.
So, it went back to the well, did some strong recruiting, and is looking at a new group of applicants to form the basis for its search.
But, rather than looking for sheer numbers of applicants, Timberland should have been looking for someone with knowledge of new technology and a view of what that new technology will do to libraries.
It also needs someone who can give the library system greater visibility and greater support from the taxpayers of the five counties.
Just like everything else in our society, libraries have been significantly changed by new technology making its way into the mainstream of society.
Children no longer have to go to the library to do research. They don’t even have to leave their homes. Public schools have been cutting library services and staff because of finances, but also because technology has made libraries almost obsolete.
Our five-county regional library system has adapted, somewhat. With computers taking up more and more space in library buildings, books are making up less and less of library services.
Yet, there are still some people who are pushing for bigger libraries, with more and more space. Some people are trying to get a new library built in Olympia, when what they really need is a small branch office on the city’s westside.
Whomever the library system hires to be its new director that person must understand how technology has changed libraries. He, or she, doesn’t need a degree in library science, but an understand of society and how it relates to library services.
Libraries should be getting smaller, more stand alone kiosks, maybe a return of the bookmobile to large apartment complexes. Those are all new concepts for libraries and the new library director should look for these changes and others. They must meet the needs of the people.
But, while technology and the future is the key element in a new libary director, the second element is an ability to adjust service to meet a declining revenue base.
Whomever is selected must be someone able and willing to make cuts and live within the current tax revenue available without asking for more money from the taxpayers.
The new director also must strive to make the operation of this tax supported organization, more transparent.
Lets hope the Timberland Regional Library Board has the wisdom to select someone who can see and appreciate the changes technology has brought, someone with a record of fiscal responsibility and someone who isn’t afraid to open up this government agency to public inspection.