Search for Schenectady County Library system director ongoing as director retires

The Hon. Karen B Johnson Library in Schenectady on Monday, October 11, 2021.

The Hon. Karen B Johnson Library in Schenectady on Monday, October 11, 2021.

SCHENECTADY – Assistant library directors will oversee operations for the Schenectady County Library system until a new executive director is named. 

The co-interim executive directors will take over following Karen Bradley’s retirement Friday. Bradley has served as director since October 2012. 

The county has been searching for a new director for several months, coming close at one point to hiring a candidate from Illinois, according to county Manager Rory Fluman. 

“We made an offer and she declined the position,” he said. 

During the initial stage of the job search, over a dozen people applied for the job, but only around six or seven people met the state qualifications, Fluman said.

To be a qualified candidate, the applicant must have a master’s degree in library science or information services from an accredited program by the American Libraries Association or an equivalent, said Erin Roberts, the county director of public communications. The person must also have eight years of library experience, including three years in an administrative position overseeing operations. They must also demonstrate an increased responsibility in the workplace. 

“There’s not a tremendous amount of people out there that are qualified by the state to do this,” Fluman said. 

The library system’s director oversees operations of all nine locations throughout the county. 

During the hiring process, candidates are interviewed by a committee consisting of the Board of Trustees for the library, the county manager and one county legislator – Gary Hughes. 

Fluman said he believes part of the reason the one candidate declined the position was due to the salary. Bradley current annual salary is just over $107,000 this year, but Fluman said he will fund the position at $120,000 annually in his proposed 2023 budget. Fluman said he’s not anticipating pushback on the increase. 

“The county legislators love their libraries,” he said. 

The budget is due to the Legislature in October. 

In the meantime, Fluman said, the county is going back out to seek applicants and hopes to fill the position by the end of the year. 

Fluman said he will miss Bradley and is both sad to see her go, but happy for her on the well-deserved retirement. 

“She’s been a gem to this county,” he said. 

Bradley’s departure leaves big shoes to fill though, said Legislator Sara Mae Pratt, chairperson for the Education and Libraries Committee. 

“I’m sure we’ll be looking for someone who, in addition to having all of the necessary qualifications, is somebody who can really build connections with the community, with all members of our communities,” Pratt said. 

Hughes said he will be looking for someone who can carry on Bradley’s leadership and engage with the community. 

Fluman said a big part of looking for the right fit for the position is ensuring the next person has a good understanding of how the library operates and that there are branches in urban, suburban and rural areas. 

“We have to have someone who is comfortable in those three areas,” he said. 

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette. 

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