Search Begins for Next Berkeley Library Director

By Judith Scherr
Friday November 10, 2006

A search for a new Berkeley Library director has begun. 

The search follows a years-long war in which members of the public and the library staff called for the resignation of the former library director Jackie Griffin, and she in response threatened to sue the city if fired before she resigned her post in June 

Thirteen candidates applied for the post, of whom four will go through an elaborate three-day public selection process next week, according to Susan Kupfer, chair of the library Board of Trustees, an appointed body which governs the library. 

On Thursday, after a tour of the main library and one branch, library staff that will include both management and line-staff will interview the candidates individually, Kupfer said. 

On Friday candidates will be interviewed by a panel of librarians from communities surrounding Berkeley and in the afternoon, they will speak to community representatives that will include two councilmembers—Linda Maio and Betty Olds—representatives from the Friends of the Library and the library foundation, School Board member John Selawsky, and Jan Garrett from the Center for Independent Living. 

The library advocacy group SuperBOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for Library Defense) was invited to send a representative, but has declined to do so, arguing that the public was left out of the original search process. “The whole (search) procedure is outrageous,” said Jane Welford of SuperBOLD. Selection of the “head-hunter,” Dubberly Garcia Associates, was done without public input, she said.  

On Saturday, the general public will be able to question the candidates in a session that is scheduled to run approximately from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the library. The exact time is yet to be determined, Kupfer said. Saturday afternoon, the trustees will interview candidates. 

Each of the panels will submit evaluation forms to the board. 

“The board makes the final decision,” Kupfer said, underscoring the trustees’ attempt to make the process as inclusive as possible.