Hiring a library director is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs that a library board can undertake. In the process of hiring a new director, boards should do their homework and learn about the preferred skills and qualifications for library directors and be conversant with market salaries and benefits. Each board will seek a director with qualities, strengths, and professional background that meets their own library's particular circumstances. In all phases of the recruitment and selection process, boards must adhere to legal hiring practices. For a sample job description see Appendix H.
The Utah Code does not require licensing for a library director. The Code stipulates that city and county library boards "must appoint a competent person as librarian … with compensation for services." County governments clearly have the hiring authority to appoint a candidate recommended by the county library board (UCA 9-7-507). On the other hand, the Utah Code reads that city library boards appoint the library director (UCA 9-7-407). In view of the way municipal government operates today, it is most likely that the funding authority does the actual hiring and compensating, unless the municipal library has been given specific powers for library personnel services. City officials will rely on the city library board to recommend a qualified and competent candidate to become library director.
To determine the desirable qualifications of a library director, each community needs to go the extra mile to determine its priorities and find the best person for their circumstances. The board can seek help from the local government human resources office or the attorney's office for up-to-date information on local hiring policies, salary and benefits. For additional advice on recruitment and selection of a director, contact the Utah State Library for professional literature and consulting service, or contact one of Utah's other libraries.
When seeking a director, some boards place more emphasis on imagination and energy, others on administrative experience, still others on education. Local conditions, the library's size, staff, and resources, also affect selection. The director is responsible both for day-to-day management of the organization, and for assisting the library board with "big picture" issues like planning and policy making. In developing the job description and assessing candidates, a board may consider the following:
The first step is to appoint an interim director who will have full authority while the search for a director is underway. The interim director should be paid at the director salary level.
The prospect of new library leadership offers the library board an opportunity to assess the library and its current needs. The board should review the library's long-range plan and be able to describe the library's future to prospective candidates. The board will want to appoint a subcommittee to conduct the director search and to screen and interview candidates. The committee will recommend final candidates to the full board.
Once the selection of a new director has been made, the director will be subject to the personnel regulations and benefits administered by the local government. The board may want to develop a written agreement that spells out the expectations of the board for the director's performance. An annual work plan for the director is an essential document that carefully establishes measurable expectations that form the basis for evaluations. To ensure a smooth transition and ensure goals are on track, the board should evaluate a new director within the first six months of employment, and annually thereafter.