Process of choosing library official begins

Newport Beach Public Libraries could have a new library services director as early as the start of 2014, City Manager Dave Kiff said at a Board of Library Trustees special meeting Friday.

With Library Services Director Cynthia Cowell planning to retire Oct. 5, Kiff proposed a selection process for her replacement and recommended hiring recruiting firm Teri Black and Associates to help with the process.

The meeting was also a chance for the public to weigh in on the selection process and suggest qualities they would like to see in the director.

"As far as I can see, the process looks good," said Karen Clark, who served on the board from 2001-11.

Clark, who helped select the past two directors, said collaboration between Kiff and the board is important to guarantee the selection of a high-quality candidate.

The city will begin accepting applications once Kiff, the recruiting firm and trustees create a brochure to advertise the position, which should take about two weeks, Kiff said.

During the recruiting period, the firm will meet with board members from Newport Beach Public Library Foundation, the Friends of the Library and the Arts Commission to discuss desired qualities in the next director.

Once the application window closes, the firm will suggest up to 22 candidates to Kiff and board Chairwoman Jill Johnson-Tucker. The pair will choose up to 12 candidates to be interviewed.

Those applicants will interview with two panels: in closed session with the Board of Library Trustees and with a selection of department directors and one or two others.

The board of trustees and Kiff will then meet in closed session to choose the top candidate.

Once reference and background checks are complete, the recommended candidate will be sent to the board for approval.

When it came to voicing desired qualities, Elizabeth Stahr, a director emeritus of the library foundation, said she would like to see a director who not only loves books and loves to read, but who will work with the public and the foundation.

The board voted at the meeting to approve Kiff's recommendation of Library Services Manager Tim Hetherton to act as interim library director effective on or about Oct. 4.

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