The Delta County Libraries Board of Trustees entered into a lengthy state-mandated hiring process in December to select a new district director for the library district. After a series of steps which included receiving numerous applications from around the country, the board finally reached a decision on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Following a long executive session at its monthly meeting, the board voted unanimously to hire Lea Hart for the position. Hart has been serving as the interim district director since November, and board president Laura Earley made it clear that Hart's successful fulfillment of that position strongly influenced the board in making its decision.
At the meeting, Earley stated to Hart, "Your leadership, professionalism and hard work has been most impressive. You were thrown into a difficult situation and I think I can speak for all of us when I say you have far exceeded our expectations. This was obvious in the many notes we received supporting you as we moved through the director selection process. I would like to thank you for the job you have done in getting us to this point and I'm confident you will continue to provide the leadership needed as we move forward."
Earley also expressed thanks to staff and to the other board members for "pulling together through this time and offering our patrons exemplary service."
As the new district director, Hart's passion for her vocation is clear. She says, "I am thrilled about being able to work with our unique communities. I want to celebrate our individuality but also strengthen those things that bring us all together in a spirit of common goals. The libraries in Delta County are loved by their communities and we try very hard to reward that support with the very best staffing, services, and programming we can offer."
Hart also expresses great enthusiasm at being able to focus on some of the challenges that she discovered during her interim stint, tasks she felt she could not undertake without the stability of the long-term position. She is already looking at job descriptions, budget, communications and technology, and talking to staff and many outside organizations to prepare for upcoming years. Hart explains, "We provide excellent services on a very tight budget. This is largely because our staff members care so much about their community and are highly motivated. My goal is to be creative with that drive, but also wise and realistic about our future."
Agenda items at the board meeting following Hart's selection attest to her readiness to move forward. Hart and other staff at the meeting fervently urged the board to contract with Marmot Library Network for Information Technology (IT) services for the library district. Marmot is a Grand Junction-based library support organization which offers several types of technology services to more than 30 libraries and districts, including libraries in Mesa County, Garfield County, Telluride, Vail, Steamboat, and Salida. Marmot staff worked with Hart and the board to come to an agreement which Hart finalized as one of her first tasks as district director.
Following that decision, Hart read a letter from Myrna Westerman, who plans to retire in April after over 20 years of service to Delta County Libraries. Westerman managed the Paonia Library for years, but more recently has been purchasing and weeding books throughout the district as collection development coordinator. Hart intends to work with Westerman and other staff to ensure that the district is well-prepared for Westerman's departure.
The meeting on Feb. 23, and Hart's leadership before and after, have made it clear that she possesses the productivity, compassion, logic and creative thinking skills that are vitally needed to help Delta County Libraries succeed into the future. Hart will be available for initial "meet and greet" sessions at all the libraries over the next week. The schedule is posted in the libraries and online. Hart will be pleased to share her commitment and drive with anyone who takes the time to talk to her. She can also be reached in her Hotchkiss office at 399-7878 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.