I haven’t been paying as much attention to the search for a new head librarian as I would have liked.
I will put a disclaimer on this post that I will likely repeat again: while I serve on the board of the Friends of Worcester Public Library, the opinions below are mine and mine alone, and do not reflect those of my beloved Friends:
Worcester Magazine and the Telegram [$] both report that the Worcester Public Library board has appointed a new head librarian, Christopher Korenowsky. (Here’s an interview with him when he became head of the New Haven Free Public Library, a position he resigned from last month.)
Korenowsky will be the fourth head librarian WPL has had in as many years. I do not want to be writing a blog post next year that says, once again, that it would be great to have a head librarian who lasts more than a year and a half.
The Worcester Public Library is at a stable spot at present, but the head librarian faces numerous challenges in the coming years.
While we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Frances Perkins (Greendale) Branch Library on Friday, we should not forget that of the three branch libraries Andrew Carnegie laid the cornerstone for in Worcester in 1913, only one — FPBL — is still actively used as a library. Main South branch is now condos; Quinsigamond is now part of the school.
While we do have three other branches — Great Brook Valley, Roosevelt, and Tatnuck — and another (Goddard) scheduled to open in April, Roosevelt, Tatnuck, and Goddard (as well as Burncoat, whenever that happens) are sponsored by private entities for a period of three years. Whether those private entities will continue to sponsor those branches after that period is something that should concern the head librarian, as well as an increased emphasis on outside organizations (through PILOT and donations through the Worcester Public Library Foundation) on funding what should be operational expenses (Sunday openings, branch libraries, etc.).
While all this is going on, there are also the larger questions of the relevance of the public library in our world, what services the library should provide to patrons, and how the library can continue to be a resource for all of us.
All of this gets interrupted when we don’t have steady, committed leadership — on the city side and on the library side. Let’s hope we get a new city manager who’s committed to library services, and a new head librarian who can stick around long enough to see some of this stuff happen.