Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jones Library has a new Director

Sharon Sharry, director of the Greenfield Public Library is now the Director of the Jones Library, an iconic downtown Amherst institution. Surviving a first round 3-3 deadlock vote against the only other candidate, Christopher Lindquist, director of the Westfield Athenaeum, Ms. Sharry won a unanimous 6-0 vote in the second balloting.

After the unsettling episode last year where a renegade wing of the Jones Library Trustees, a sort of evaluation inquisition, drove out 30 year Director Bonnie Isman, lets hope the new director can maintain cordial terms with the Board of Trustees--especially now that Carol Gray has returned from a one year stay in Egypt.

Somebody appreciates my timeliness


Anonymous said...

The split vote on the first motion reflects the strength of both candidates, not any bitter disagreement among the trustees. The process moved along surprisingly smoothly considering the fights last year. A lot of credit goes to the new president, Sarah McKee. She's done a great job putting the search on track in the short time she's been president of the board, only since April.

Anonymous said...

Sarah McKee also needs to be voted out of office when her term expires and she is up for re-election. She was part of the group who forced Bonnie Isman to retire and drove Beth Girshman away. We lost two excellent long-time employees with over 70 years service to the town of Amherst because of a group of bullies on the library Board of Trustees and the town should not rest until all the bullies are voted out of office.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree but from a patron point of view the Jones has been a mess for a long time. For starters, the entrance looks like a dump, with the under-utilized space in a shabby state, and the staff is almost uniformly rude. A good housecleaning was indeed long overdue.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:17, I'd agree with you if Sarah McKee were following the same path as last year, but she has been completely different. For one thing, she didn't let Carol Gray's return derail the search process.

Chris Hoffmann said...

I would really like Sarah to serve a second term. She's incredibly hard-working, and I think she genuinely cares about doing what is best for the library far more than trying to prove her opinion is best.

What happened last year was a mess. There was a sincere desire to point out areas where the Jones could be improved marred by confusion over board/director powers, personality conflicts, miscommunications, mistrust, too much dependency on secrecy.... You name it.

But our board worked hard over this winter to improve ourselves, and we succeeded more than I could have hoped.

Since we elected Sarah our president I've gotten to work with her very closely, and surprisingly enough we see eye-to-eye on most of the big issues confronting the Jones and its board. She appointed me chair of our new policy committee so I can help revise our policies so nothing like last year can happen again. She and I also worked closely to refine a director evaluation policy that both of us agree should be a first-class procedure. (Of course we have to get the rest of the board to agree!)

About the only thing we have disagreed about is our top choice for the directorship. But she had very convincing and well-researched arguments for her opinion which caused me to think deeply about my own arguments.

Anyway, however we got here, we are starting a new era at the Jones. I'm thrilled that we expect to have Ms Sharry at the helm, and I hope all of you will soon feel the same way.

Chris Hoffmann said...

While I'm here, I should clarify a couple of points in the original article.

There were far more than two candidates who applied for the job. We were voting on the top two candidates chosen by our search committee, which was made up of trustees, staff, the president of the Friends of the Jones, and the head of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

Also, we don't have a new director yet. We've voted to make an offer to Ms Sharry, but we still have to negotiate a contract. As further proof of that our board truly has been working together well, though, I composed most of our proposed contract, with much help and research from Sarah and Pat. Now we have to make sure the lawyers like what we came up with.

Anonymous said...

"... the entrance looks like a dump, with the under-utilized space in a shabby state" <--Would that be the entrance with the new carpet and newly upholstered sofa? Is the antique table dusty?

Your perception of reality differs in many ways from mine.

Anonymous said...

Pat who?