Saratoga County

Library leader takes helm

Issac “Ike” Pulver, the new director of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, has spent the past week

Issac “Ike” Pulver, the new director of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, has spent the past week meeting for 45 minutes, one-on-one, with each member of the staff.

“It’s been a most pleasant week,” Pulver said. “It’s a great crew.”

Pulver, 42, most recently deputy director of a library in a Cleveland suburb, was selected by the library’s board of trustees to succeed library director Harry Dutcher.

Dutcher, 61, retired in mid-January after 25 years as director.

Pulver, who will be paid $100,000 per year, spent the past 15 years working in public libraries in Ohio, Michigan and Queens.

“What’s not to like?” Pulver said about Saratoga Springs. He said Saratoga Springs is rich in history.

“It’s a great combination of country and culture,” Pulver said.

Kenneth Bollerud, president of the library’s board of trustees, said the director search was a long but satisfying process.

“We are all pleased with the outcome,” Bollerud said when Pulver’s appointment was announced late last year.

The national search included dozens of applications and came down to five finalists who were interviewed by the board and library staff.

Pulver said Friday that Dutcher spent three days with him before he officially retired on Jan. 18.

“But he’s still around,” Pulver said about Dutcher. “I’m having breakfast with him on Monday.”

Pulver was most recently deputy director of the Shaker Heights Public Library outside of Cleveland.

He said that library is located in a retrofitted 100-year-old school building.

“It’s a real treat to be in a purpose-built building,” Pulver said about the Saratoga Springs library, at 49 Henry St.

He said the 12-year-old building has an excellent layout, but space is becoming a premium as the shelves fill with more books and other library materials.

The library staff and board of trustees are currently discussing long-range renovation and improvement plans.

“My real interest is the way we reach out to our customers,” Pulver said. “It’s all about experiences at the library.”

He said he is interested in more programming at the library that includes partnerships with other community organizations. “We will be seeking partners to do programs with,” he said.

Pulver, who is single, is the youngest of 10 children. He is a native of St. Ignace, Mich., a resort area in the state’s rural Upper Peninsula.

He said cold, snowy winters are nothing new to him. He enjoys camping, hiking and riding his bike.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College in Michigan and a master’s in library science from Wayne State University in Detroit. He is also a graduate of the Leadership Academy of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

Pulver said that when he worked at Queens Library in New York City in the early 1990s, it was one of the first public libraries to start merchandising its book and movie collections like a retail bookstore.

“That made the circulation skyrocket,” he said. “They were the leaders of the pack.”

The Saratoga Springs library and libraries across the country have also started displaying their new books and other materials in a more attractive way. He said this gives the library “more of a bookstore feel.”

Pulver said he’s not sure if the Saratoga Springs library can be expanded too much because its footprint is pretty well-established.

He said he understands that library parking is an issue here, just as it has been at all of the libraries where he has worked.

One of the things he is interested in is finding a permanent space for the library’s “play and learn” programs for children.

He said he is delighted with the Saratoga Springs library’s children’s floor. But he said the Shaker Heights library had a special space for its “play and learn” events that was very popular with parents and their children. He hopes this can be incorporated into the Saratoga Springs library.

“It’s one of the best-maintained libraries I’ve ever seen,” Pulver said about the Saratoga Springs library. He said even the library’s boiler room is “spotless.”

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