It’s official: after a 21month stint as the library’s interim director, Jessica Anderson was hired as the director. The Humboldt County Library Board of Trustees made the decision to hire Anderson at special meeting held Aug. 27.
In addition to Humboldt County Assistant County Manager and Human Resource Manager Abel del Real-Nava, the county’s legal counsel Wendy Maddox, Co-chairs Georgette Olsen and Mary Agnes Boni, Trustees Susan Putnam, Lesley Haas and Rick McComb were also present.
The board interviewed two candidates, one of which was Anderson. The interview process took about three and a half hours with serious deliberation amongst all the board members.
Co-chair Boni made the recommendation to the board to offer the position to Anderson, McComb seconded the motion and the board finally agreed to the proposal.
Co-chair Boni stated during the discussion after the interviews that both candidates were good and qualified. The board was torn between each candidate’s experience with small rural libraries, but the crux of the decision came down to not only Anderson having 10 years’ experience within the library but also her experience the last 21 months in the director’s position.
Anderson told the trustees during her interview she realized that she had to apply for the position because she knew it would be a step backwards for her professionally. “It would be a disservice to me and the library. … I have to look forward and keep going forward in my career.”
During deliberation, Co-chair Olsen pointed out how far Anderson had come. “I think she’s grown so much and she’s making that effort to do what we have asked of her,” adding that Olsen has heard positive comments about Anderson’s public presentations. “When you think about what it was like for her in the beginning to where she is now,” Olsen said, “it’s amazing.”
In a separate interview, Anderson admitted that public speaking was problematic for her but that she has worked through it. “I had to grow into being able to talk to people outside the library. Public speaking is one of people’s biggest fears. Luckily, I kinda got over a big chunk of that early on with story times and singing in front of people. But [public speaking] is a little different when you don’t have a book script to follow.”
She says she’s also grown to appreciate the administrative side. She says the library’s 10 person-staff has been a valuable resource she’s come to depend on. “Being able to tell people to do this is a new thing but we work really well together.”
“There was really no local interest [in the position] and the [candidates] weren’t invested and just didn’t love this library like I did,” Anderson said at her interview.
Anderson sees a positive future for her and the library. “I would like to see 10 years down the road, a lot more outreach services, recognized out in the public.” Anderson would like to improve the library’s internal structure to offer unique services such as education and career development and training opportunities as well as cutting edge technology such as patrons being able to check out the Internet.
Anderson’s love for the library is apparent. It is also apparent it is in good hands.