Urbana library board to make job offer for director's post

URBANA — Members of the Urbana Free Library board plan to extend an offer to one of two finalists for the open director position soon.

The board on Tuesday night heard a closed session report from the chairman of the committee that headed the search for a new director — members did not announce publicly whom they hope to hire, but board president Chris Scherer said they hope to know very soon if that person accepts their offer.

The field was recently whittled to two finalists when a third candidate withdrew her name after accepting a position with another library, said search committee chair Robert Burger. He said that candidate, Aurora Public Library branch director Debra Stombres, did not specify where she was hired.

The two remaining candidates are Celeste Choate, associate director of the Ann Arbor (Mich.) District Library; and Sarah Rosenblum, the director of the Marshalltown (Iowa) Public Library. They were in town last week for public receptions.

The library is looking for a new director after parting ways with its previous head, Debra Lissak, following a book "weeding" controversy, when library patrons complained that too many books were being removed from library stacks too quickly. She and the board mutually agreed to end her employment after a few weeks of heated public comment at board meetings.

Scherer said Lissak is no longer working in the library but is still on payroll under the separation contract the board approved in September. Her employment contract guaranteed her one year's notice before she could be terminated, so Lissak will continue to receive her normal salary and benefits until July 5. She was set to make $101,000 this year under the contract that ran from July through June.

Before moving into closed session, Scherer and other board members commended the search committee for doing its work quickly and under budget.

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