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Library director Larry Oathout to resign

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New director needed by early June

By TRISTA LUTGRING
Feature Writer

TELL CITY – There were many somber faces at the May 2 Perry County Public Library board meeting as Library Director Larry Oathout officially tendered his resignation.
He has accepted a position as chief officer for planning and operations at the Evansville-Vanderburgh Library, which he said was a “huge step” for him.

“You guys have been great to me, you took a chance on me. I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said when he addressed board members.

He added he felt the library was in a “really good position to move forward.” His last day at the Perry County Library will be June 9.

He presented board members a job ad to fill his position, which he put together from others he found online and input from the library staff to fit the Perry County Public Library needs.

Once the board approved the job listing, Oathout said he would post the ad on the state library’s Web site.

“I’ll also send it out on the state e-mail list, we’ll post it with Indiana University’s job site, I have access to the University of Illinois site (too) so I think we’ll be able to get it out quite far,” he explained, adding he would look at other venues to send the ad as well.

There were a few points on the job listing he wanted to dicuss with board members before posting it. One is listed under qualifications and experience.

“I put down Perry County residency is strongly encouraged but not required. I did that for one reason,” he said. “I personally believe that residency is really good and should be (required).”

But he acknowledged that many people drive considerable distances to jobs now because they have difficulties selling their homes.

“I would hate to see a qualifed individual that’s willing to drive not be willing to apply because they weren’t willing (to move to Perry County).”

He also wanted the board to dicuss whether or not to put a salary on the job listing, and determine how he and the board would review the applications recieved.

In regard to the question of residency, board president Mickey Fischer said she believed they had no choice, “being a small community,” to not limit applicants to only those willing to move to Perry County.

“I hope when we interview people and talk to them, their attitude is ‘if I can sell my home, I will move to your community.’ To me that will be a decisive factor,” she said.

Patsy Alvey asked whether it was legal to ask applicants to live in Perry County. Oathout pointed out the same statement was listed when he applied for the postition.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea to get it in their head to let people know that’s exactly what you want,” added Arvina Bozarth, Cannelton city clerk-treasurer who was present at the meeting.

“The reason I would like that in there is to let the people of Perry County know we’re thinking about them,” board member Frank Mafia said.

Board members decided to leave in the residency suggestion.

With Oathout’s final day approaching very quickly, Fischer questioned whether a June 2 deadline was too soon.

Colleen Smith suggested setting a deadline of May 26 to start considerations, which was agreeable to all board members.

Discussing the review of applications, board member Patsy Alvey noted a small committee of board members was formed to review applications previously.

Board members decided Alvey and Smith would review applicants with Oathout. Once they whittled down applications to a few, they would bring in staff members Debbie Seibert, Ginger Alvey and Paul Sanders to help them interview the candidates.

Final candidates and interviews would be presented to the board.

The Friends of the Perry County Public Library will host a public reception for Oathout from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 7 at the Tell City branch.

In other business, Oathout informed board members he recently spoke with staff at OBS in Canton, Ohio, and the library’s new bookmobile is on schedule. A blue and orange paint scheme had been chosen by Oathout and bookmobile librarians Brandi Sanders and Debbie Feix.

“A couple weeks (after it’s painted) we should get delivery,” he said. “I think it’s going to look really snazzy when it’s all said and done. I think we’re going to be really proud of it.”

As for the bookmobile currently in use by the library, Oathout said he had planned to sell it through a business run through a consulting service the library used.

“I’m informed by our attorney that is illegal in the state of Indiana. We actually have to auction it, which means we’re only going to get about a third of what we wanted to get,” he explained.

He went on to say the county’s attorney recommended they use a service used by the county to auction the vehicle. Bozarth suggested that if the library is using the same auction service the county uses, Oathout should request to place the bookmobile in a more expansive site to auction it off.

“They have one (auction) for just municipal vehicles and another for just anybody and we actually sold a fire truck in the anybody auction,” she said.
Oathout said he would find out more information about what the library’s options are.

Board members again heard from long-range plan facilitator June Miller. Miller’s last appearance was at the March board meeting where board members and staff discussed goals and objectives for the library.

At this meeting, she presented a summary of the progress so far. The four areas the long-range plan committee decided were best to focus on were membership, funding, staffing and services.

Miller added the committee discussed two other areas at length – facilities and a recent merger – but members decided those areas would be continually looked at by the library staff and board throughout the year, so there was no need to add them to the long-range plan.

The committee also made goal statements at the April 26 meeting and expanded the process by discussing objectives for the services goal members had set.

“We did a great job in a very short amount of time we had,” Miller said addressing the board. There is still a lot of work to do, she added, but with the current progress, she felt the plan could be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

She and Oathout, along with representatives of the state library, suggested board members hold off on moving forward with the planning processes until a new director is found. Miller added, however, that if committee members wanted to, they could meet one more time to finish the process of planning one goal so members are familiar with the steps. Many board and committee members agreed with her.

“You’re doing an awesome job. I’m very impressed with the engagement and contribution of the committee,” Miller added.

In his reports, Oathout informed members an Antiques at Your Library event April 14 brought in more than 300 visitors to the library and a silent auction held by the Friends of the Library made more than $340, the largest sum its ever.

Local author Larry Peter will sign copies of his new book at the Tell City branch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 19.

The board’s next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. June 6 at the Tell City branch.