Finalists for Urbana library post coming to town

URBANA — Residents will have a chance to meet the three finalists for the open Urbana Free Library director job when they are in town for public receptions and interviews during the next two weeks.

Library Board President Chris Scherer said the decision to hold public sessions with the three finalists was made to add transparency to the process. This will be residents' opportunity to give their input, he said.

"From what I have been told, I feel very good about the three," Scherer said.

The position has been vacant since former director Debra Lissak and the library board decided to part ways last year. The decision followed a controversial "weeding" procedure, in which many older books were removed from library shelves.

Patrons were upset with the magnitude and the speed of the book culling and brought their concerns to the library board. The move was called a "misstep," and on July 9, board members announced the separation.

They have been looking for Lissak's replacement ever since, while associate director Kathy Wicks has been in charge in her place.

A search committee has selected three finalists, and they will be in town for interviews and to meet the public during the next couple weeks. All receptions will begin at 4:30 p.m. on their respective days in the MacFarlane-Hood Reading Room on the first floor of the Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St. Each candidate is scheduled to make remarks at 5 p.m.

— On Feb. 3, library officials will introduce Celeste Choate, currently the associate director of Ann Arbor (Mich.) District Library.

— On Feb. 7, a public reception is scheduled for Sarah Rosenblum, the director for Marshalltown (Iowa) Public Library.

— On Feb. 10, the public will have a chance to meet Debra Stombres, the branch coordinator for the Aurora Public Library's Eola Road Branch.

A decision on the vacant director position is nearing, Scherer said.

"It will be shortly after the three candidates will be here, but I can't say exactly when," he said.

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