A librarian summoned out of retirement will temporarily head Douglas County libraries while the county searches for a permanent director and discusses merging the 11-branch system with the county museum.
County commissioners Thursday appointed retired circulation librarian Louise Hughes as interim director. Library Director Max Lee will retire Monday.
Hughes, 64, worked in the system’s Roseburg headquarters for 30 years before retiring in 2006.
“I think she’s eminently qualified in every respect,” Commissioner Doug Robertson said.
Hughes said she is excited to fill the interim position, but won’t apply to be the permanent director.
“I would like to see the library move forward,” she said. “But I am retired and plan on staying retired.”
Cindy Hutchison, the system’s youth librarian, raised concerns about the appointment.
Attending the meeting in which commissioners made the appointment, Hutchison said she is unsure Hughes is qualified because the system has changed in the past six years.
Commissioner Joe Laurance said he thought it a good decision to choose an interim director who does not want to be the permanent director and is not a current library employee. Commissioners appeared hesitant to elevate someone from within the system over other staff members, mindful that person may have to return to his or her former role.
“I believe it makes sense to have someone outside the current family fill the position,” he said.
Hughes said she understands that some staff may be wary of her appointment.
“I think they’re going to be apprehensive, and I would be, too. It’s something new, but I’m only there to help. I’m not there to infringe upon anyone,” she said.
The commissioners began advertising for a permanent director about three weeks ago. Robertson did not set a deadline for finding a permanent director.
“We are going to look long and hard for the right person for the job,” Robertson said.
The search comes as the county contemplates merging the library system and museum under one director, a role that Douglas County Museum Director Gardner Chappell said he would welcome.
Chappell riled some Douglas County Library Board members recently with comments he posted on a Portland publication’s website saying he will be become library director as well. Chappell admitted his comments were “presumptuous.”
Although only an interim director, Hughes outlined ambitious goals, including making libraries more visible in the community and increasing hours.
“I want this to be a real positive thing,” she said.
Members of the library and museum boards will meet with Oregon State Librarian MaryKay Dahlgreen and Robertson on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of one person directing the library system and museum.
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or email at email@example.com
It’s something new, but I’m only there to help. I’m not there to infringe upon anyone. \n
Douglas County Library interim director