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Brandon Township Library searches for new director

August 13, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- The library board and staff are working to move forward two weeks after the death of Interim Director Colleen Stringer.

During their Aug. 11 meeting, the library board focused on the search for a person to fill the top position as they unanimously approved an official advertisement for a new library director and discussed immediate needs in what they have called an emergency situation since the loss of Stringer, who died suddenly July 31 at the age of 67.

"The current status of the library is, in general, still sad at the loss, but determined to continue making sure every day the patrons are taken care of," said Trustee Verna Cole. "Each staff member is doing their job, plus whatever else they see that needs to be done."

Fran Hotchkiss, head children's librarian, has been appointed head staff person during this difficult period. Cole adds that a library accountant is assisting with payroll and has taken on some additional work, but under the direction of Hotchkiss, library staffmembers are getting things done and the library continues to welcome patrons during regular library hours.

On Tuesday, the new director ad was posted internally, in the library staff room, as well as in a public area of the library. The position will be posted externally Aug. 27 online at the library's website, brandonlibrary.org, Facebook, and at the Library of Michigan website.

The advertisement notes the library has 19 employees and an annual budget of about $900,000. The successful candidate, states the ad, "will have strong leadership skills as well as a thorough knowledge of library management including supervisory, financial, and library development. While guiding the library to a strong financial basis, the director will also interact with Brandon Township and Village of Ortonville leadership, creating a strong working relationship. Applicants should have an open door policy with both staff and patrons, be willing to participate in evening and weekend activities, be familiar with current library, electronic and internet technology; be knowledgeable about long-range planning and grant procedures and be versed in traditional library skills. While subject to an active board of trustees, the director will plan, advocate and supervise the daily activities of the library."

The position requires a master's in library science degree from an ALA-accredited program, either certified level 1 by the Michigan Library or able to acquire certification during orientation; a minimum of five years of active library service with at least two years supervisory experience; a valid Michigan driver's license and a successful background check.

The board unanimously approved a starting salary of $50,000 annually, with benefits negotiable. Resumes accompanied by a cover letter can be e-mailed to vcole@brandonlibrary.org.

Stringer was acting as director since November, when former Director Paula Gauthier resigned. Gauthier's resignation came after the board questioned why the library had not received state aid revenue for the previous five years. The board subsequently learned that Gauthier did not have a master's degree as she claimed and thus did not meet the state's certification requirements for a library of Brandon's size.

Stringer accepted the responsibility of leading the library, although reluctantly, and was looking forward to returning to her position as head adult services librarian. Cole said the implementation of a new director was at first delayed because of the need to do a forensic audit, and then examination of the actual financial condition of the library.

"We had to verify what our exact position was before we felt we could go ahead and put money aside for a new director," said Cole. "We also have a need to build a contingency fund, so we had to make sure we could do both of those things."

She praised the finance committee, which consists of Trustee Ann Schmid, as well as President Patty Salter and Treasurer Pete Burkett, saying the committee put in not just hours, but expertise and study in the budgeting process for libraries.

While finally officially underway, the search for a new library director is also more difficult as the library board was counting on Stringer to assist in selecting a new leader.

"She had strong opinions about what we needed in a new director and had every intention of having a strong role in choosing the new director," said Cole. "We are looking forward to finding someone who can step in and be a strong leader and finding someone who is supportive of the existing culture and can move us forward in both establishing a strong economic base and being a bigger part of the community than we are now... We have to make Colleen proud. We understand the importance of the library in this community."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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