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A Problematic Match For Library Matchmakers

Published: July 6, 2017

“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch… and make me the perfect match.” —Hodel, in Fiddler On The Roof

For the third time in four years, the C.H. Booth Library has lost its director. Library Director Karen Tatarka bids farewell to staff and townspeople on July 7, returning from whence she came, the Weston Public Library. Ms Tatarka, by all reports, was popular with all whom she encountered in her brief tenure — she was hired as of March 2017 — so it is particularly wrenching to lose this “very, very talented person,” as library Board of Trustees President Bob Geckle expressed.

Ms Tatarka’s brief stay followed the 2016 resignation of Brenda McKinley, a 20-year staff veteran who served as director for just two years. In 2013, Shawn Fields served as director for just 12 weeks before it became obvious that the hiring was a misfit.

Prior to Mr Fields, though, Janet Woycik served for 30 years.

The question then is, what has changed in recent years that our town, boasting a beautiful, well kept, active library, cannot retain a leader for its library?

The hiring of Ms Tatarka came after a search of several months by the Trustees, utilizing a committee of board members, staff, and townspeople. This is the formula they are once again putting in place to find the right match.

The board must be questioning at this point if they are asking the right questions of candidates and if they are presenting the job in an accurate light.

Is the salary not competitive? Does the board not provide enough support or does it micromanage? Is there a lack of community? What are the positives that attract and the negatives that seem to, just as quickly, detract from this position?

Ms Tatarka had expressed great hopes that her experiences in growing the Weston library could be put to use to grow this library. She seemed excited to move on the Strategic Plan, and looked forward to being part of the community.

What changed in such a short time to convince this director that what she needed to implement change was not there; that her outreach to the community was not going to be what she had hoped; or that her professional growth would be better addressed elsewhere?

Delving into the reasons that one experienced and very familiar director, Ms McKinley, and another experienced director with broad knowledge, Ms Tatarka, would find the grass greener in other pastures (even ones previously grazed) is critical to the search committee finding, selecting, and most importantly, retaining a library director who can lead the C.H. Booth Library into the future.

In the meantime, patrons can be assured that the library remains in the capable hands of much-returned interim director Beryl Harrison and a devoted staff.

We know from past experience that a perfect match can be made.

Figuring out how that can happen is a charge the C.H. Booth Library Board of Trustees must address, and thus maintain patrons’ and staff’s confidence in our local library.

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