published Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Chattanooga’s Public Library picks 3 finalists for director

by Cliff Hightower
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    The Public Library, formerly known as the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library, is at 1001 Broad St.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo


The Public Library Board plans to bring three candidates to Chattanooga for an on-site interview. Those interviews will occur in the coming weeks.

Chattanooga’s Public Library Board has whittled down a list of potential candidates for executive director and could start a face-to-face interview process in a matter of weeks.

Jim Kennedy, the library board chairman, said this week there are three candidates for the position and they’ll now come in for an on-site interview. The library board shortened the list after receiving 55 applications, he said.

“We’re moving ahead,” Kennedy said.

Another upcoming issue will be to officially change the name from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library to The Public Library. But at this point, the board’s priority is getting in a new director to be a public face and an administrator, Kennedy said.

The library has undergone a series of changes over the last year.

Longtime director David Clapp retired last December and a national search for a replacement started. Then in July, after the expiration of a 45-year-old sales tax agreement between the city and Hamilton County, the city took full control of the library.

The agreement spelled out how the city and the county broke down their financial responsibilities for agencies jointly funded by the pair. The city decided not to renew the agreement.

In August, Mayor Ron Littlefield appointed a city-only library board. Since then, Kennedy said, the board has held two meetings. A week ago, the board met and interviewed six of the library director candidates over the phone, he said.

But the library also is moving forward on another issue. Kennedy said a $50 nonresident fee was approved for anyone living outside Chattanooga. The library board is looking at exemptions for some county residents who may not be able to afford the fee.

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Littlefield, said the board is moving along steadily.

“We’re happy with the progress,” he said. “They’ve had a lot to do in a short amount of time.”

He said the mayor is confident the board will select the appropriate person as the director.

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