Search for new library director expected to begin in April

Camas city leaders also aim to enhance relationship with FVRL

The recruitment process for a new Camas Public Library director is expected to begin in mid-April.

City Administrator Pete Capell recently told the City Council that he will be meeting to discuss the issue with the library Board of Trustees’ personnel committee, as well as the full five-member board during the next few weeks.

Laura Felter, a member of both library groups, told the City Council on March 7 that she is concerned that the window to attract a quality candidate is closing. City leaders, she said, need to make the hiring process a priority.

“The candidate pool we hope to attract is not only a highly educated one, but of a small pool of qualified candidates nationwide,” Felter said. “We already are in a position to account for a hiring process that did not streamline the transition from outgoing director, into the next. This is unusual, even for our city.”

Following the October 2015 retirement of Director David Zavortink, city officials began exploring the possibility of annexing the Camas Public Library into the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District.

After some deliberation, the City Council in January decided the library would instead remain Clark County’s only independently operated library, and efforts would be made to find Zavortink’s successor.

At the time, City Council members also favored finding ways to develop the city’s relationship with the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, and enhance the library’s existing resources.

“When you look at Camas Public Library statistics, on comparable libraries or even directly to Fort Vancouver Regional Library, I think it’s fair to say that our investment in books and electronic materials are low,” Capell said March 7. “We want to try and increase that.”

Currently, through a shared services agreement Camas patrons have access to FVRL library catalog software and computer reservation systems, and reciprocal borrowing privileges. The city does not pay any fees for these privileges at the moment, but as part of the coming year’s contract negotiations with FVRL that is expected to change.

To offset some of the additional costs that would be associated with this expansion of services, Capell has said he supports some changes to the organizational structure of the library.

These could include reassigning some duties of the director and assistant director positions. Possibilities include eliminating the assistant director position and outsourcing some of the job responsibilities; and adding a non-represented job with supervisory duties over some members of the staff.

“Our labor expenses per capita for Camas are very high, so we are trying to sort out what things might look like, before we start the (library director) recruitment,” Capell said.

Councilwoman Shannon Turk said a director should be hired, before an reorganization decisions are made.

“I really would like the department director to be hired so that they can review the contract and any reorganization,” she said. “I am not going to be comfortable as a council member approving that without their review.”

Councilwoman Bonnie Carter, a liaison to the library board of trustees, agreed.

“To move forward with strategic planning, and any reorganization or negotiations with Fort Vancouver, I think it would behoove us to move forward with looking for a new director,” she said.

Since October 2015, Assistant Director Linda Swenton has been serving as the interim director. As such, her monthly salary is $6,866. Her salary as assistant director was $5,923.

The next library board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12, at 6:30 p.m., at 625 N.E. Fourth Ave.

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